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Safely clean up after a storm

Kentucky weather can be unpredictable. When a storm hits, the damage it has done can be unclear. 

After a storm, many think the danger has left along with the high winds, heavy rain and lightning strikes, but sometimes danger happens during the storm recovery period.

Keeping your distance from downed power lines and following these safety tips will keep your family and neighbors safe after a storm.

Wear proper safety material. As you are cleaning up, make sure you are wearing proper protection to prevent injury. Work gloves, safety glasses, heavy-duty work shirt with long sleeves, work pants and steel-toe work boots are a good idea if you are working on clearing large amounts of broken, splintered or sharp debris. Be careful of sharp objects such as nails and broken glass. 

Stay away from power lines. Always assume a downed power line is live. Downed power lines pose a particularly dangerous threat in areas where lots of people are trying to clear fallen trees and branches from roads and lawns. Let the professionals handle this job. It’s not worth the risk. If you see a downed power line that is sparking or on fire, call your local electric co-op or power provider immediately.

Use flashlights, not candles. When checking for damage to a home, never use matches, candles, lighters or kerosene lanterns as a light source. Igniting a flame while near damaged gas lines can cause an explosion.

Stay away from damaged buildings or structures. If a building has been subjected to rushing flood waters or has been submerged, it may not be structurally safe. It’s best to stay away from these types of structures until professionals can assess the extent of the damage.

Do not use extension cords where there is standing water. Electrical supply for power tools should be equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electrocution. Existing or repaired systems should be equipped with ground fault protection.  

Never operate gasoline-powered equipment indoors. Also, you should not operate gas-powered equipment, including a generator, in a partially enclosed space, such as a garage.  Make sure all equipment is more than 20 feet from any window, door or vent. Gas engines emit carbon monoxide—an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas you should never breathe.

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