Keys to Weathering a Storm: Preparedness and Readiness

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Carbon Monoxide Detector

The nation saw first hand the devastating effects of natural disasters such as heat waves, tornadoes and hurricanes, which affected many parts of the U.S. this year. These tragic disasters always remind me and my family that preparedness and readiness are essential to both survival and recovery.

While September marks National Preparedness Month, being prepared should be a part of your life year-round. With the slogan “This September: A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare,” we join the sponsors of National Preparedness Month, FEMA’s Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, in encouraging you to educate yourself on how to be prepared for natural disasters.

You and your family can face severe weather without fear by developing a plan and readying your home in advance. One of the best tips for preparation is to build an emergency kit. First and foremost, the kit should include a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm – and here’s why:

Silent Killer

When the power goes out during or after a storm, many people turn to generators to provide electricity for their homes. What many don’t know is that if not used properly, generators can be a source of carbon monoxide, which can cause even more devastation after the initial disaster.

CO is an invisible, odorless gas, making it impossible to detect with human senses. The only way to monitor for carbon monoxide in your home is by installing the proper equipment.

Carbon monoxide poisonings result in more than 450 deaths and 20,000 emergency room visits every year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about one-third of generator-related CO deaths are associated with power outages. Most of these power outages occur as a result of hurricanes and tropical storms.

Be Alarmed

If using a generator, be sure to follow these generator safety tips to prevent CO poisoning:

  • Never run a generator inside your home, basement or garage. The generator could emit CO that can linger inside the home even after the generator has been turned off.
  • Place the generator at least 15 feet away from the house.
  • Install CO alarms on every floor of the home, including the basement, and in every sleeping area.
  • Purchase a portable CO alarm for your emergency kit that is portable and battery operated in case the electricity is out, or you’re taking shelter in an area where there are no CO alarms.

Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure—nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness and confusion are all signs of CO poisoning. If you experience any of these symptoms, or if your CO alarm sounds, get to a well-ventilated area and contact emergency services immediately.

In addition to carbon monoxide alarms, other important items to include in your emergency kit include water, flashlights, extra clothing, a transistor radio, batteries and a fire extinguisher. Once you have your kit prepared, take the next step in preparation by developing a plan for the whole family to use in the case of an emergency. Taking the time to make sure you and your family are prepared will help you be ready for almost any natural disaster. Stay safe!

Debbie Hanson is the Director of External Affairs for First Alert, a trusted brand in home safety products.

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