CLEVELAND, June 11, 2012 /CNW/ - With the summer months come fun in the sun, but the warm weather can also spell trouble. With thunderstorms, floods, lightning, strong winds, tornadoes, and even talk of hurricanes, consumers should be prepared for severe conditions and the aftermath that can sometimes accompany warmer weather.
"While the weather is often unpredictable, it's probable that many Americans will experience a moderate to severe weather event in their area sometime this season," said Anthony Toderian, safety spokesperson, CSA Group. "Therefore, CSA Group is reminding people that it's extremely important that they prepare now for the severe weather that lies ahead."
CSA Group, a leading certification and testing organization, wants to help people stay safe during the coming summer months by offering the following safety tips:
TORNADOES AND HURRICANES
The U.S. can expect close to one thousand tornadoes to strike each year and as many as eight hurricanes. CSA Group encourages consumers to remember essential safety tips when it comes to recovering from a tornado or hurricane:
- Return home only when advised by local authorities and obey all emergency personnel instructions.
- Be prepared with safety apparel and equipment that is certified by an accredited certification organization such as CSA Group. Basic items should include:
- Certified protective footwear to protect against electric shock, puncture and impact injuries; protective gloves, head wear and eye wear; protective masks if airborne biological hazards or other toxins such as lead dust or mold may be present.
- Personal first aid kit with antiseptic wipes.
- Portable battery, solar or crank-operated radio to receive updates and warnings from local authorities.
- Clean drinking water.
- Flashlight or chemical glow sticks (do not use candles or any open flame as they may cause a fire or explosion and never smoke around damaged buildings or facilities).
- Before approaching your home, check the surrounding area for hazards such as downed power lines, debris, or other dangers. Mark and report any hazards or hazardous goods to local authorities. Treat all power lines as live and never touch!
- Check outside the home for obvious structural faults. Do not enter if serious structural damage is evident.
- Examine the exterior for gas leaks or electrical hazards. If possible, turn your gas off at the meter. If you can access your main electric box without going through standing water or entering the home, turn off the main breaker. If the gas or electrical controls are inside the home, turn them off only after it has been deemed safe to enter your home by qualified emergency personnel or a building inspector.
- Upon entering, slowly and carefully watch for hazards. Beware of jammed doors, sagging ceilings or floors that suggest structural collapse. Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal the structure may fall or if you smell gas.
- Do not operate gas or electrical equipment until it has been dried, cleaned and inspected. Some equipment such as hot water heaters may need to be replaced entirely if floodwaters have reached the burners, electrical parts or insulation. Replace only with certified equipment. Check for broken, leaky or shifted water and gas pipes and lines before use.
STORMS AND FLOODING
Nine to 15 tropical storms hit American waters in an average year, often wreaking havoc. Even an "average" thunderstorm can cause severe damage. CSA Group reminds consumers to keep in mind the following when dealing with the aftermath of storms and flooding:
- Beware of standing water inside and out that can be breeding ground for micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and mold. When floodwaters have sewage or animal carcasses present, infectious disease is an added concern. Do not use contaminated water for cooking or washing.
- Everything that has been touched by floodwaters should be cleaned and disinfected. Materials that cannot be effectively cleaned, such as carpeting, mattresses, and stuffed toys or stuffed furniture should be discarded. Remove and discard wet wallboard/drywall/gypsum and insulation.
- Start the drying process as soon as possible by opening all windows and doors to allow fresh air to move freely. Use fans and dehumidifiers certified by an accredited organization such as CSA Group to aid the drying process.
- If your basement remains flooded, drain it slowly and carefully only when standing water outside the home is no longer visible on the ground. Removing water too quickly from your basement may put pressure on your home's outer walls and significantly damage or collapse your foundation.
- Heating and air conditioning ducts may have mud or debris and may need to be cleaned and disinfected.
There are an estimate 20 million lightning strikes in the country, with an average of one strike every three seconds in the summer. This along with extreme heat can lead to brownouts, or even blackouts. If faced with this situation, there are some important safety considerations:
- Use generators carefully and always follow instructions, ensuring your generator is rated for the amount of electricity you will need. To prevent shock, the generator must be properly grounded. Only use generators that have been tested and certified by an accredited organization such as CSA Group.
- Do not connect a generator directly to a home's wiring, which could send high-voltage current or "backfeed" to outside power lines connected to your house. Backfeed could be fatal to electrical workers, neighbours or anyone that touches the power line and may cause additional damage to your home.
- To prevent fires, never refuel a generator when it's running or while still hot and keep an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby at all times. Be sure to store fuel containers outside and away from buildings or combustibles.
- If you must use an extension cord, ensure that it is certified for outdoor use and check it often for overheating. Do not attach multiple extension cords.
- Consider using portable solar panels and battery units for smaller appliances.
For more everyday consumer tips and safety advice, please visit www.csasafetytips.com
About CSA Group
CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit membership association dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. Its knowledge and expertise encompass standards development; training and advisory solutions; global testing and certification services across key business areas including hazardous location and industrial, plumbing and construction, medical, safety and technology, appliances and gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability; as well as consumer product evaluation services. The CSA certification mark appears on billions of products worldwide. For more information about CSA Group visit www.csagroup.org
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