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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Post-hurricane risks: How to help your communities

Fire departments can definitely make a difference by spreading prevention-related messages

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: After two people were left dead, apparently poisoned by carbon monoxide from generators that were providing power to homes left without electricity by Tropical Storm Irene, Chief Adam K. Thiel gives his thoughts below.

As this story demonstrates, even though Hurricane Irene has now departed our shores, members of affected communities are still at great risk while they continue dealing with flooding, power outages, and storm-inflicted damage.

Beyond maintaining responders' personal vigilance, and getting ready for the next potential storm, fire departments can definitely make a difference by spreading prevention-related messages.

While trained firefighters might take generator safety and other basic safety measures for granted, the average citizen is likely unfamiliar with portable power equipment.

Most folks are also unaccustomed to dealing with a situation where their normal environment has been substantially changed.

Although response and recovery efforts continue in many places, now is definitely the time to talk about safely using cooking equipment, generators, chainsaws, etc.

It's also important to discuss candle safety, carbon monoxide exposure, and the dangers posed by floodwaters.

After all...Hurricane Katja is already on the way...

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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