The Dangers After Irma: Chainsaws, Generators, And More

It’s been four days since Hurricane Irma ripped through Florida and left a mark in the sunshine state. Now residents find themselves in cleanup mode and at risk of death or injury if not careful with cleanup equipment.

With power outages a central issue through the state, many are turning to generators to seek some relief. However, the risks of leaving a generator running inside are deadly.

Already Florida has seen five deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can happen when a generator is left running inside a house or apartment. Two teenagers and their 34-year-old mother were victims of the poisoning in Orange County, a 7-year-old girl lost her life in Lakeland, and another woman was left dead in Daytona Beach. Now authorities are warning Floridians of the avoidable tragedy.

“It’s so unfortunate,” said Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Mayor. “For a lot of people, they lost some very precious members of their family.”

Experts advise that generators, along with charcoal and gas burning grills, always be left outside and never brought inside where proper ventilation is poor. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Along with generators, chainsaws are another possibly dangerous piece of equipment used in the cleanup following a natural disaster. In Tampa, a man died after his chainsaw recoiled while he was cutting fallen trees and cut his carotid artery.

Officials recommend these tips for using chainsaws safely as Florida continues to cut away from all of the trees Irma ripped down:

  • Check all controls and the chain on the piece of equipment before starting it.
  • Clear away loose debris in the chainsaws path.
  • Wear protective clothing such as a hard hat, goggles, work gloves, and steel-toed boots.
  • Be cautious of saw kick back.

Furthermore, while many are still without power, electrocution is a threat to those traveling roads that have not been cleared yet.

Power lines downed by storms, live wires hidden in standing water, and downed transformers are just a few things that can cause electrocution deaths or injuries to the public.

Authorities urge residents not to travel down roads that haven’t been cleared by utility workers and to use caution around any power lines.

Lastly, debris still poses a threat to possible injury. Loose debris can give and fall at any given time, especially since Florida starts heating back up and afternoon thunderstorms get added to the mix. Some buildings in Havana contain debris that can fall and crush anyone underneath it.

During the cleanup process use caution when using heavy equipment and always observe your surroundings.

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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.