Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms of Service

What to Do After A Hurricane Strikes

  • Published: 2011-08-27 (Revised/Updated 2011-09-01) : Author: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Synopsis: Warning and information for residents in hurricane impacted areas regarding deadly dangers that can remain after Hurricane Irene strikes.

Main Document

CPSC and USFA Warn About Deadly Dangers That Can Linger After Hurricane Irene Passes.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are warning residents in hurricane-impacted areas about the deadly dangers that can remain even after Hurricane Irene strikes.

Consumers need to be especially careful during a loss of electrical power, as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire increases at that time.

In order to power lights, to keep food cold or to cook, consumers often use gas-powered generators. CPSC and USFA warn consumers NEVER to use portable generators indoors or in garages, basements or sheds. The exhaust from generators contains high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) that can quickly incapacitate and kill.

"Don't create your own disaster in the aftermath of a storm," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Never run a generator in or right next to a home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible killer. CO is odorless and colorless and it can kill you and your family in minutes."

From 1999-2010, nearly 600 generator-related CO deaths have been reported to CPSC. CPSC is aware of an annual average of 81 deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning from generators in recent years. The majority of the deaths occurred as a result of using a generator inside a home's living space, in the basement or in the garage.

"We know from experience as victims try to recover from disasters, they will take unnecessary risks with candles, cooking and generators. These risks often result in additional and tragic life safety consequences," said Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn A. Gaines. "When you consider the challenges faced by firefighters and their departments to also recover from the same disasters, it is important that all of us remember even the simplest of fire safety behaviors following disasters of any type."

Do not put your family at risk. Follow these important safety tips from CPSC and USFA in the aftermath of a storm.

Portable Generators

Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner's manual and follow the instructions. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.

Charcoal Grills and Camp Stoves Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors. Burning charcoal or a camp stove in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide. There were at least seven CO-related deaths from charcoal or charcoal grills in 2007.

CO Alarms

Install carbon monoxide alarms immediately outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home to protect against CO poisoning. Change the alarms' batteries every year.

Electrical and Gas Safety

Stay away from any downed wires, including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage. If you are standing in water, do not handle or operate electrical appliances. Electrical components, including circuit breakers, wiring in the walls and outlets that have been under water should not be turned on. They should be replaced unless properly inspected and tested by a qualified electrician.

Natural gas or propane valves that have been under water should be replaced. 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.


Use caution with candles. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.

Consumers, fire departments and state and local health and safety agencies can download CPSC's generator safety posters, door hangers and CO safety publications at CPSC's CO Information Center or order free copies by contacting CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772. Download USFA's publications on disasters and fire safety and other safety issues at

Similar Topics

1 : Quake Kare Launches Portable Camping Survival Kit : Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis.
2 : Efforts to Support Survivors in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey : FEMA.
3 : Potential For U.S. Nuclear Disasters Greatly Underestimated : Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
4 : What Happens After You Register with FEMA for Disaster Assistance : FEMA.
5 : Quake Kare Kits Make Disaster Preparedness Easier : Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis.
From our Disaster Planning Guides section - Full List (53 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.

1 : vEAR: Why Can I Sometimes 'Hear' Silent Flashes When Viewing Animated Gif's?
2 : New Jersey Digital Art Program for Individuals with ASD
3 : 2018 Lime Connect Fellowship Program for Students with Disabilities
4 : Epihunter Classroom - Making Silent Epileptic Seizures Visible
5 : Prostate MRI Reveals More Treatable Cancers and Reduces Overdiagnosis


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.