Storm/Natural Disaster Safety Tips

Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on you and your home. Use the following safety tips to help protect yourself, your family and your home from the potential threat of fire during or after a summer storm. You can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty by being able to identify potential hazards and following the outlined safety tips.

Some Types of Fire-Related Hazards Present During and After a Summer Storm

  • Lightning associated with thunderstorms generates a variety of fire hazards. The power of lightning's electrical charge and intense heat can electrocute on contact, splitting trees and causing fires.
  • Pools of water and even appliances can be electrically charged.
  • Appliances that have been exposed to water can short and become a fire hazard.
  • Generators are often used during power outages. Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be very hazardous.

Chemical Safety

  • Look for combustible liquids like gasoline, lighter fluid, and paint thinner that may have spilled. Thoroughly clean the spill and place containers in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep combustible liquids away from heat sources.

Electrical Safety

  • If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box, turn off the power.
  • Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds.
  • Be aware of and avoid downed utility lines. Report downed or damaged power lines to the utility company or emergency services.
  • Remove standing water, wet carpets and furnishings. Air dry your home with good ventilation before restoring power.
  • Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.

Gas Safety

  • If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house then call 911 from outisde the house
  • Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion.
  • Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.

Generator Safety

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using generators.
  • Use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside the home. CO fumes are odourless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors. NEVER use indoors.
  • Use the appropriate sized and type power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires.
  • Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.
  • Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity or 'backfeed' can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.

Heating Safety

  • Kerosene heaters may not be legal in your area and should only be used where approved by authorities.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least 3 feet away.
  • Make sure your alternative heaters have 'tip switches.' These 'tip switches' are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
  • Only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow suggested guidelines.
  • Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.
  • Refuel heaters only outdoors.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least 3 feet away from combustible materials. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
  • Use a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby carpets, furniture or other combustible items.

and remember ...

  • Always use a flashlight - not a candle - for emergency lighting.
  • Some smoke alarms may be dependent on your home's electrical service and could be inoperative during a power outage. Check to see if your smoke alarm uses a back-up battery and install a new battery at least once a year.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • All smoke alarms should be tested monthly. All batteries should be replaced with new ones at least once a year.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of debris for easy access by the fire department.

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