Hurricane Season Is Here – Are You Prepared?

By Brian Raimondo

Are you prepared for this year’s hurricane season, which began June 1 and will continue until November 30th. Hurricanes are one of nature’s most powerful storms and people in hurricane prone areas need to be prepared.

If you’ve been here during a hurricane you know most of the items you need for preparation, what to do during the storm, and what to do following the storm. If not, you need to pay attention to these lists.

BEFORE THE STORM

• Know your evacuation routes and listen to meteorologist reports and when/if you should evacuate. Know the location of hurricane shelters in your area; remember that not all shelters will be utilized.

• Have a safety plan in place

• Have flashlights and battery-operated radios and check their working condition.

• Have a first aid kit ready

• Trim trees and shrubbery; clean out gutters and downspouts; and inspect and secure mobile home tie downs. Bring in lightweight objects such as garbage cans, garden tools, toys and lawn furniture

• Fill up the gas tank, obtain extra cash, and invest in nonperishable foods; including one gallon of water per person for three days minimum; Have a manual can opener

• If evacuating, leave early

• Notify neighbors and family outside of the area of your evacuation plans

• Make plans for your pets

DURING THE STORM

• Stay indoors and away from windows

• Listen to local authorities and stay tuned to radio or TV for weather bulletins

• Use flashlights as a source of light; do not use candles

• Turn refrigerator to maximum cold and open only when necessary

AFTER THE STORM

• Wait for the all clear to be announced

• Stay away from standing water—it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines; critters and raw sewage may also be present.

• Do not attempt to drive across flowing water. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle; two feet of water will carry most cars away.

GENERATORS

Although generators are useful, each year people die in incidents related to them. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, and fire.

Following are some safety tips when using a generator.

• Never plug the generator into a wall outlet. Always use generators outdoors, away from doors, windows, and vents. Keep the generator dry. Operate on a dry surface under an open, canopy type structure. Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty outdoor rated extension cord.

• Never use generators in homes, garages, crawl spaces or other partially enclosed or enclosed areas even with ventilation.

• Follow manufacturer’s instructions; install carbon monoxide monitors in your home (check the battery and alarm frequently)

• Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite and don’t overload the generator.

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly. When using a portable generator, remember that you cannot smell or see carbon monoxide.

Symptoms of Carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include: headache, fatigue; shortness of breath. Nausea, and/or dizziness

If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately. DO NOT DELAY. If you experience serious symptoms, get medical attention immediately. Inform the medical staff that carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected. Call the fire department to have someone check your home to determine when it is safe to re-enter the building.

SAFETY TIPS FOR CLEANING UP

• Watch for loose or dangling power lines: stay away from them and report them immediately to the proper authorities. Wear sturdy shoes or boots and protective clothing when cleaning up debris

• Be aware of snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by floods

• Enter your home with caution. Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home

• If there has been flooding, have an electrician inspect your home before turning on the breaker

• When using chainsaws, wear protective gear, (consisting of head, face, hearing, leather gloves and chainsaw protective chaps

• While cleaning up. avoid overexertion and practice good lifting techniques. When working in hot environments, have plenty of drinking water available; use sunscreen and take frequent rest breaks.

Southwest Florida residents who follow these rules will find out that they can weather the storm and return to normalcy. These lists are being suggested by the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition, which serves as a collaborative effort or partnership whose function is to facilitate partners’ work; It acts as a catalyst for injury prevention initiatives. Its mission is to prevent injury, disability, and death through advocacy, education, legislation, and partnerships.

Additional information about the Injury Prevention Coalition or hurricane preparedness may contact Brian Raimondo at ipcleecounty@gmail.com or 239-330-2240.during

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