As residents in Texas head back to their homes following Hurricane Harvey and those in Florida prepare for Irma to make landfall, federal safety regulators are warning them about potential dangers lurking in their storm-ravaged homes.
From carbon monoxide poisoning to electrocution risks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning on hazards to avoid after the storms clear.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
With thousands of residents without power in storm-hit areas, many consumers have turned to alternative power sources, including generators and camp stoves.
The exhaust from these devices can contain poisonous carbon monoxide.
The CPSC notes that to safely use such devices and avoid the risk of poisoning, individuals should ensure there are at least 20 feet between generators, charcoal grills, and camp stoves and a person’s home.
Additionally, individuals should make sure the CO alarms in their homes are still working.
As flood water in Texas begins to recede and rain begins to drench Florida, it’s important to remember that downed power lines could remain charged, the CPSC warns.
People should stay away from power lines and refrain from operating or handling electrical appliances that have been 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,” the agency urges.
While lighting a bunch of candles as you wade through your flooded halls might seem romantic or like a scene from a movie, it should be avoided.
The CPSC suggests consumers should use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns instead of candles.
“Candles should be used with extreme caution,” the CPSC notes. “Never leave burning candles unattended. Battery-operated lights such as flashlights are a safer option.”
Much like carbon monoxide poisoning, the CPSC notes that other gas leaks can be equally as dangerous.
As a rule of thumb: If you smell gas, don’t turn lights on or off, or use electrical equipment, including a phone. Instead, leave your home and call 911.
Additionally, before you use a gas appliance or a gas cylinder that has been underwater, have a professional check for damage or leaks.