Winner Eryka poses with orange and black bike

(Submitted photo)

A message from the Fire Prevention Branch:
Storm/Natural Disaster Safety Tips     


Posted on Thursday July 23rd, 2020

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
• Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open.
• 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.
• 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.