As Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall, FEMA Issues Safety Tips for Weathering the Storm

WASHINGTON - As Hurricane Irene makes landfall in North Carolina and continues to move up the East Coast of the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working closely with states in the storm's projected path to ensure they have the resources they need to respond. FEMA officials are urging residents and businesses to listen to the instructions of their local officials, closely follow news and weather reports, and evacuate, if told to do so. The window of preparation for residents who live up the East Coast is quickly closing. We can't stop this storm from causing damage, but we can prevent the storm from taking lives, if members of the public heed the warnings of their local officials.


If it is no longer safe to evacuate, FEMA has issued the following safety tips for how to weather the storm at home:


•    Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.

•    Close all interior doors -- secure and brace external doors.

•    Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.

•    Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.

•    Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

For more tips on what to do during a hurricane, visit:


For other Federal Resources:


•   The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to be especially careful during a loss of electrical power, as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire increases at that time. The CPSC and U.S. Fire Administration 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.

•   The FDA reminds consumers to take precautions for storing water and ensuring the safety of their food and medical supplies for themselves and their pets during and after this week's expected hurricane-related rain, possible flooding and power outages. Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency by visiting

•   The Small Business Administration urges business owners to prepare, in advance of the hurricane, and encourages everyone in the affected communities to listen to local public officials. If they say to close up shop or evacuate, don't hesitate.

•   HHS ASPR safety tips:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers the following cautions on the use of gas-powered generators and other tools:


Shock and Electrocution

•     Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of structure (home, office, trailer, etc.) unless a qualified electrician has properly installed the generator with a transfer switch.

•     Always plug electrical appliances directly into the generator using the manufacturer's supplied cords or extension cords that are grounded (3-pronged). Inspect the cord to make sure they are fully intact and not damaged. Never use frayed or damaged extension cords.

•    Keep a generator dry; do not use it in the rain or in wet conditions. If needed, protect a generator with a canopy.


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

•   Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces and basements.

•   Make sure a generator has three to four feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.

•   Be cautious when using a generator outdoors to ensure it is not placed near doors, windows, and vents could allow carbon monoxide to enter and build up in occupied spaces.

•     If you or others show symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning-dizziness, headaches, nausea, tiredness-get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention. Do no re-enter the area until it is determined to be safe by trained and properly equipped personnel.


Fire Hazards

•   Generators become hot while running and remain hot for long periods after they are stopped. Generator fuels (gasoline, kerosene, etc.) can ignite when spilled on hot engine parts.

•   Before refueling, shut down the generator and allow it to cool.

•   Gasoline and other generator fuels should be stored and transported in approved containers that are properly designed and marked for their contents, and vented.

•   Keep fuel containers away from flame producing and heat generating devices (such as the generator itself, water heaters, cigarettes, lighters and matches). Do not smoke around fuel containers.


Noise and Vibration Hazards

•   Generator engines vibrate and create noise.

•   Excessive noise and vibration could cause hearing loss and fatigue that may affect job performance.

•   Keep portable generators as far away as possible from work areas and gathering spaces.

•   Wear hearing protection if this is not possible.


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FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.