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Four less obvious hurricane hazards

Wind and water are not the only thing causing a threat

Photo (c) Leonard Zhukovsky - Fotolia
With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, the dangers to people in the path of the storm are evident.

Forecasters think the storm surge could be as high as 10 feet and the winds have been clocked at 185 miles per hours, making it a monstrous Category 5 hurricane.

But the storm may also pose threats to people outside its direct path, since powerful winds are likely to extend well inland. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says it's not only dangerous when the storm hits, but afterward too.

The CPSC says there are four main hazards that consumers should be mindful of after Hurricane Irma moves on.

Carbon monoxide

In the wake of the hurricane there will be wide areas without electricity. Consumers may fire up portable generators for lights and charcoal grills for cooking.

That's fine, as long as both are kept outdoors and away from enclosed spaces. In fact, the agency says portable generators should be kept at least 20 feet from the house since exhaust fumes can seep through windows and vents.

Never use a charcoal grill or butane camp stove inside a house. Both will produce dangerous carbon monoxide.

Live wires

Hurricanes tend to knock down power lines. On the ground, it's hard to tell whether they are still live or not.

Assume that they are and keep your distance. Electricity and water have always veen a bad combination. If appliances or circuit breakers in your home have gotten wet, have an electrician check them out before using them again.


When a hurricane knocks out power, some people light candles to provide some light at night. Candles may be romantic, but they can also be dangerous, especially when you have a lot of them lit at the same time.

Instead of using candles for light, use battery powered electric lamps available at most discount or camping stores. They provide more light than a candle and they're safer.

Gas leaks

High winds and flood waters can cause structural damage to a building, and when things are moving around, sometimes there is a break in the gas line.

If that happens, you're likely to smell it pretty quickly. If you do, don't flip a light switch or even use your cell phone. Once you are out of the house and at a safe distance, call 911 to report it.

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