"In northeast Louisiana, we are occasionally challenged with the direct or indirect forces of weather. Whether a direct assault from a tornado, or the after effects of a coastal hurricane, citizens of Monroe should be aware of hazards that may be present after high winds or rising waters affect our area."
POWER LINES AND POWER FAILURES
After a storm containing heavy rain or high winds, carefully inspect the outside perimeter of your home for broken limbs and electrical cables. Be especially aware of any unusual odors that may indicate a natural gas or hazardous chemical leak. Check water puddles for discoloration which may indicate gasoline, oil, or household chemical spills.
Be careful around broken limbs, whether on the ground or still suspended. They may be energized by live electrical lines that have been damaged by the storm.
Do NOT attempt to move any electrical lines or cables that may be on the ground or hanging low enough to touch. Call the electric company and inform them of down or displaced lines in your area. Never assume that a downed line is just a telephone or cable / Internet line.
If you are involved in an automobile accident and a cable is touching your vehicle, do NOT leave your vehicle. You will be safer if you stay in your vehicle and do not open any doors or roll down any windows. Call 911 if you have a telephone available and alert them of your location. Wait for help to arrive and for the cable to be disconnected and removed before exiting your vehicle.
Keep in mind that some or all of your smoke detectors may be powered by the household electricity only. If you have no power, then your smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide) detectors may not be working. Install battery-powered detectors to supplement your existing detectors to insure you have continuous coverage.
Ditches may contain high amounts of water. Keep children away from high water in ditches as they may not realize the depth of the water and be at high risk for drowning or being pulled away from fast moving drainage. Also, the water in a ditch down your street may be energized by a downed power line, causing an electrocution hazard in any standing water in your area.
If you use a generator for temporary power during a power outage, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Remember to turn off your main electricity while using your generator as this can send a dangerous electrical spike back into the electrical system endangering electric company technicians.
If you use a temporary heating source, such as a propane heater, be very careful and follow manufacturer's instructions with respect to distance from flammable materials. Install a working smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector to warn of potential fire and inhalation hazards.
If any appliance appears to malfunction, particularly if it emits smoke or sparks, then discontinue use and have a qualified technician inspect it immediately or have it replaced.
Use adequately rated extension cords to power your electrical equipment. Consult your equipment owner's manual for the right size and rating for an extension cord for your equipment. Overloaded extension cords can overheat an cause heat, sparks, and fire.
Never run electrical cords or extension cords under rugs or carpets where they can become damaged over time and cause shorts, sparks, and fires.
Use generators outside and not inside to avoid any fumes that may build up inside causing a health hazard.
Do not use the kitchen oven to heat your home. This is a health hazard, as it could cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home. This is also a fire hazard.
Keep anything that is combustible, such as curtains, papers, and wood products at least three feet away from any heat source, such as a space heater.
Only use portable heaters that have a "tip switch" that will turn the heater off in the event it is turned over on its side.
Always follow manufacturer's guidelines in the use, safety precautions, electrical supply and any fueling of any heating unit. Consult the owner's manual when necessary.
Never refill an oil-based heater when it is operating or still hot.
Insure wood-based heaters are properly ventilated.
To prevent sparks or embers from traveling from your fireplace to your carpet or other combustibles, acquire a metal or glass screen.
While inspecting the perimeter of your home, be aware of unusual odors, particularly one resembling rotten eggs or sulfur. Listen for sounds that resemble air escaping or any "rushing" sounds, as these all may indicate a natural gas leak. If you notice any of these signs, leave the area immediately and call the gas company.
If your natural gas supply has been cut off, have your gas lines checked by an authorized service representative before turning the gas back on.
For additional information, you may consult the U. S. Fire Administration.