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Disasters and fire safety

Dec 23, 2023

One aspect of disasters often overlooked is the risk of fire. Preparing in advance can lessen or eliminate deaths, injuries, and property damage. In most types of disasters, the risk for fire is increased due to loose electrical wires, broken gas lines, flooding, or the lack of electricity. In addition, fires in residences are a personal disaster striking hundreds of thousands of homes each year. For these reasons, each of us should take the time to find out how to be prepared.

Citrus County Fire Rescue encourages you to review this disaster-specific information to help protect yourself, your family, and your home from the potential threat of fire during or after a disaster. You can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty by being able to identify potential hazards and following safety tips.

Leaking gas lines, damaged or leaking gas propane cylinders, and leaking vehicle gasoline tanks may explode or ignite.

Debris can easily ignite, especially if electrical wires are severed.

Pools of water and even appliances can be electrically charged.

Generators are often used during power outages. Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be very hazardous.

Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.

Fires can occur in a variety of ways and in any room of your home but no matter where or how, having a smoke alarm is the first key step towards your family's safety. A smoke alarm stands guard around the clock and, when it senses smoke, it sounds an alarm. This often allows a family's precious but limited time to escape from the structure.

Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms are one of the best and least expensive means of providing an early warning of a potentially deadly fire. Smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying from a fire in your home by almost 50 percent.

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, including electricity.

Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds and telephone lines.

Look for and replace frayed or cracked extension and appliance cords, loose prongs, and plugs.

Never run extension or electrical cords under carpets or through high traffic areas.

Exposed outlets and wiring could present a fire and life safety hazard.

Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.

Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.

If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open. Call 911 and your gas company.

Do not turn any electrical items off or on.

Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion.

Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a licensed professional.

Carbon monoxide gas can come from several sources: gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces, and motor vehicles.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using generators.

Use a generator or other fuel-powered machine outside the home. Be sure the exhaust is facing away from the building. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.

Use the appropriately sized and type power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires.

Never run cables under rugs or carpets where heat might build-up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.

Always refuel generators outdoors and make sure they are turned off before refueling.

Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.

Purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors for your home.

In the event of a fire, remember – time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. Fire doubles in size every 18 seconds, therefore a small fire can get out of control quickly and turn into a large fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames. (Varying factors impact firespread.)

Practice escaping from every room in your home.

Practice escape plans every month.

The best plan has two ways to get out of every room. If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be quickly opened.

Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.

Never open doors that are hot to the touch. Feel closed doors with the back of the hand to verify that it is safe to open it and use that as an escape route.

Designate a meeting place outside and away from the house and take attendance.

Get out and stay out! Never return to a burning building once you are out!

Remember to escape first, and then notify fire rescue by dialing 9-1-1.

Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.

Do not use alternative heating devices to dry clothes or furnishings.

In place of candles, use battery-operated 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 twice a year and test it monthly.

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and in each sleeping area.

If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of debris for easy access by the fire department.

Have a home evacuation plan and practice it.

Working smoke detectors save lives!

For more information, call Citrus County Fire Rescue at 352-527-5406

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