September 8, 2017

This is a challenging time for our nation.  The United States is in the midst of an active and dangerous hurricane season. Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico have been ravaged by high winds and flood waters, and Florida and other eastern seaboard states are bracing for Hurricane Irma.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of those affected by Harvey and Irma as well as the first responders are on the ground saving lives.

Preparing in advance of Hurricane Irma is crucial, but preparing for the hurricane’s aftermath is also extremely critical.

Without power, consumers often turn to portable generators to supply power to their homes, use candles for lighting and find alternative ways to cook for their families. This post-storm period includes many hazards that may not be obvious.

CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) POISONING

Portable generators can be lifesavers after a storm knocks out power to your home. However, they must be used OUTSIDE ONLY, at least 20 feet from the home. Never use them in your home, garage, shed or even on a porch near a window or vent. Exhaust fumes from portable generators contain extremely high levels of carbon monoxide that can kill you and your family in minutes.  Be aware of the signs of CO poisoning: nauseous, dizziness, and fatigue. If you start to experience these symptoms, leave right away and get to fresh air immediately. Then call 911.

Carbon monoxide alarms can give you crucial escape time. Make sure you have them on every level of your home and outside bedrooms and that they are working properly.

Don’t burn charcoal indoors. It can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide that can kill you. Use charcoal outside only.

FIRE

Candles are a fire hazard if they are left unattended. Safer alternatives include flashlights and battery-operated lanterns.

Smoke alarms save lives. Are your smoke alarms working? Test them today to make sure. 

ELECTROCUTION

Watch out for downed wires. They can be live with deadly voltage and can electrically charge the water and electrocute you. Stay away from downed wires.

Do not operate electrical appliances that are or have been in standing water or while you are in standing water. Have a qualified electrician check electrical appliances, circuit breakers, outlets and wiring before using them if they have gotten wet or have been in standing water.

GAS LEAKS

If you smell gas, get out. Leave the home immediately and then call 911 from a safe location. Do not turn lights on or off, or use electrical equipment, including a phone.

Follow @USCPSC on Twitter and Facebook for more hurricane safety tips.