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Storm Safety Information

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SAFETY TIPS

  • Breakers – If you do not have power, turn off your breakers. When the power is restored, energize them one-by-one. If you smell smoke after power is restored, turn the breaker off. If you smell smoke and think there is a fire danger at your home or business, call 911.

  • Gas – If the gas was turned off or if you lost gas serve, check for the odor of gas when power is restored. If you smell gas, go outside and notify your utility provider.

  • Minimize flushing – Residents should conserve and minimize water use. Hold off on showering and bathing, doing laundry, and flushing toilets.

  • Refrigerator – If you have lost power for at least four hours, even with minimizing opening the door, discard and replace items.

  • Generators – Read the owner’s manual and keep the generator a safe distance from the home. Do not place the generator inside the home, including a garage, even if you ventilate it. Also, check the wind in your area to see if fumes are being pushed into your home. You may need to move the generator to prevent wind blowing fumes in your home. When fueling the generator, allow it to cool down (at least 20-30 minutes) before refueling.

  • Propane – Read the owner’s manual and do not use propane grills inside the home or in the garage, even if you ventilate it. Use the grill at least 15 feet from the home or garage.

  • Downed trees and power lines – Assume any downed power line is energized when driving or walking in your neighborhood. Do not attempt to move or pick up limbs or trees that could be in contact with a downed power line. If you are without power, the downed power lines could be in your yard, so use caution as you pick up around your home or business. If possible, wait until power is restored to remove trees and limbs from your property to make sure they are not intermingled with power lines. 

  • Intersections without traffic signals – If coming to an intersection without a traffic signal, treat it as a four-way stop.

  • Cleaning up debris in the yard – When picking up your property after the storm, wear the proper safety gear, including gloves, safety eyewear and closed-toe shoes. Use sunscreen and drink water frequently. If you move debris, please keep it 3-4 feet from the road and away from storm drains. Debris placed between the sidewalk and the home will not be picked up. Debris should not be placed near trees, poles or other structures. It also should not obstruct the roadway, storm drains, mailboxes, water meter vaults and fire hydrants.

  • Debris should be separated into four categories:

    • Normal household trash and bagged debris

    • Unbagged vegetative debris, including leaves, logs, plants and tree branches

    • Construction and demolition debris, including building materials, carpet, drywall, furniture, lumber, mattresses and plumbing

    • Appliances, including air conditioners, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers and water heaters.

  • Chainsaws – If using a chainsaw, wear proper safety gear, including gloves, safety eyewear and closed-toe shoes. Do not attempt to cut limbs that are over your head or out of reach. Do not use a chainsaw while standing on a ladder. If possible, have someone work with you, so they can watch where the limbs fall.


GENERATOR SAFETY TIPS

  • Placement is key. Never use generators indoors or outside near windows, vents, or air intakes that could allow carbon monoxide (CO) to come indoors. This can be fatal.

  • Use proper care. Proper ventilation is critical to reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator’s engine exhaust. CO poisoning is a common, serious danger that can cause death if generators are used improperly; this is particularly true when the fuel is not burned completely.

  • Keep other items clear. Maintain plenty of air flow space around the generator.

  • Pay attention. Get fresh air immediately if you begin to feel sick, dizzy or light-headed or experience flu-like symptoms.

  • Buy a CO detector. Because CO is invisible and odorless, buy a CO detector (similar to or sometimes combined in a smoke detector) to warn of rising CO levels.

  • Ground your generator. Carefully follow all instructions on properly “grounding” the generator.

  • Keep the generator dry. Short circuits may occur in wet conditions, which can cause a generator fire. If needed, place the generator under an open canopy-type structure.

  • Be prepared. Always keep a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.

  • Leave it to the professionals. To avoid electric shock or electrocution, do not try to fix or otherwise work on a generator.

  • Organize your cords. Keep cords out of the way to avoid injury, but keep them in plain view to keep track of cord damage (such as fraying or cuts) that could cause a fire.

  • Do not back-feed power. Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet. Back feeding will put you and others, including utility line workers, at serious risk because the utility transformer can increase low voltage from the generator to thousands of volts.

  • Don’t touch. It’s hot. The exterior portions of a generator, even if operated for only a short period of time, can become hot. Avoid touching the generator without protective gear and keep debris clear to avoid a fire.


CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas; it is highly poisonous. Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pains in people with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death.

The Department of Health recommends these precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace.

  • Never use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO build-up in the home.

  • Always locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors. Follow the instructions that come with your generator.

  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer's installation instructions. The CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).

  • Test your CO alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.

You cannot see or smell CO. Portable generators can produce high levels of CO very quickly. If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately. Do not delay.


POWER LINE SAFETY TIPS

  • Never touch a fallen power line, and do not drive through standing water if power lines are in the water.

  • If a power line falls on your car while you are driving, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line.

  • Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup.


FOOD SAFETY

  • Get rid of food if it has a strange smell, color or texture.

  • Dispose of cans that are open, damaged or bulging.

  • Toss food that requires refrigeration but has been warmer than 40 degrees for two hours or longer. This includes meat, eggs, fish, poultry and leftovers.


BURNING DEBRIS

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