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Hurricane Home Safety

During & After the Storm
Hurricane preparedness isn’t just about protecting your family and property against the effects of extreme wind and rain.  It’s also about creating an environment free from hazards while confined to your home during a storm and preventing dangerous situations after the storm, too.

If you will be evacuating your home for the storm, turn off the power at the main circuit breaker before leaving.

If you will be weathering the storm in your home, there are several safety issues to consider:

  • Ensure ahead of time that smoke alarms are operational.
  • Use battery-powered light sources when the power goes out and avoid the use of candles.  If you must use candles, make sure they are in safe holders and away from curtains, paper, wood or other flammable items.
  • NEVER leave candles unattended in another room and do not go to sleep without extinguishing them.
  • If power is lost, lighting will be poor inside, so keep thoroughfares free of clutter to avoid accidents. 
  • Remember that once your windows and doors are shuttered or boarded, it will be more difficult to get out in the case of an emergency, so make sure to identify all means of egress and ensure everyone in the house is aware of them.

Fire-rescue and police will not be able to respond during the intense hours of the storm, so be prepared to handle some possible emergencies on your own by having the following items readily available:

  • A well-stocked first-aid kit
  • A Type ABC fire extinguisher
  • Clean or bottled water
  • A telephone that is not dependent on electricity and/or a cell phone
  • Non-electric light sources, preferably battery-powered.

Once the storm has passed, you will be eager to get back to your home if you have evacuated; and if you stayed home, you will be eager to go outside and assess the damage.  Continue to listen to news bulletins regularly for important recovery information and make sure you wait for the official word from emergency management officials that it is safe to go outside. 

Once you are sure that it is safe to come out of your shelter, you will be faced with many potential hazards that commonly occur after a significant storm.

If you evacuated your home for the storm:

  • Make sure that the area has been officially declared safe before you decide to return. 
  • Drive very carefully, looking out for downed utility lines, flooded areas and debris in the roadways.
  • Before entering your home, look for exterior signs of utility damage, such as downed power lines and smell of gas leaking.
  • Try to return to your home during daylight hours so that potential hazards are more easily visible.

During the recovery mode after a storm, proceed cautiously through your property and home to identify damages and potential dangers.  Avoid wading in standing water, which could contain hidden debris or even be electrically charged by an unseen power line.

If the interior of your home sustained water damage, either from flooding or leaking, be sure that the power remains off at the main circuit breaker until a licensed electrician can inspect all wiring and electrical appliances.

Listen for official updates about water quality.  If it is announced that the water supply has been contaminated, you will need to purify your water.  You can do this by boiling the water for one minute, or if boiling is not an option, you can add eight drops of regular chlorine bleach to each gallon of water.
Never attempt to use a charcoal or gas grill inside a house, garage or other enclosed area.  Not only is this a tremendous fire hazard, but it also produces carbon monoxide, which is a colorless and odorless gas that can kill you.

As soon as all windstorm threat conditions have passed, you should remove your shutters and put them away in an organized and easily accessible place.  You might need them again soon!  Leaving shutters or plywood fixed on an inhabited structure is a safety hazard for occupants if they need to get out in case of an emergency.

For more information on weathering a hurricane and storm recovery tips, visit the Miami-Dade Emergency Management website: www.miamidade.gov/oem

Smoke Alarms 
Although 92 percent of American homes have smoke alarms, many of the annual estimated 3,600 deaths and 19,000 injuries caused by home fires are the result of non-working smoke alarms. The most common cause of smoke alarm failure is a missing, dead or disconnected battery.   

Smoke alarms do save lives, but only if they are in working condition! An operational smoke detector can reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by approximately 50 percent. The alarm provides early warning of fire, giving residents extra time to escape it. 

Statistically, most fatal fires occur at night when people are asleep. Without an operational smoke alarm, victims might never wake up, because deadly smoke fumes can cause them to sink into unconsciousness and then death long before flames ever reach them. Working smoke alarms will detect smoke and sound an alarm to alert occupants, giving them a precious window of opportunity to escape before the fire has spread throughout the house.

Remember that smoke travels much faster than fire, and it rises to the ceiling. A properly placed smoke detector allows us to take advantage of the “smoke signal” and even allows us safe passage if we get out quickly while staying low to the ground.

Changing smoke alarm batteries while changing clocks twice a year is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce fire deaths and injuries.  The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department urges all residents to adopt the lifesaving habit of changing smoke-alarm batteries when changing clocks every fall and spring.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:18:02 AM
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