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Safety

Independence Day Safety: Focus on “fire” in fireworks

Buying fireworks this week to scare off a flock of egrets grazing in your yard? (Wink, wink) Sure you are — because to buy exploding or flying fireworks just to shoot off in the street on Independence Day is illegal, according to Florida’s fireworks law. Yet, there’s a loophole in Florida law as big as one of those roadside tents run by fireworks vendors; sellers of pyrotechnics get customers to sign a form saying they are using the fireworks to scare off wildlife. Illegal or not, chances are thousands of dollars in fireworks will be going up in smoke in your neighborhood this weekend. Think about the fire and injury risk beforehand, plus your liability, by reviewing fireworks safety tips before you light a match.

Got a fire alarm? Put it to the test

When was the last time you tested your home’s fire alarm? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to do it. Put your fire alarms to the test today. Please?

This is Fire Prevention Week.  And, it’s one of those times when you really need to take action. It’s great if you have fire alarms in your home, and it’s not great if they are inoperable. As the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says, “Working fire alarms save lives.”

NO FLASHERS: Florida rules of road for driving in rain

Auto hazard lights in rain.

It is illegal to drive with flashers blinking in Florida.

Somewhere in Florida, nearly every sunshiny summer day is interrupted by a thunderstorm – or a brief, blinding, monsoon-like downpour. I got caught in one on I-4 last week. Several drivers on the interstate had their emergency flashers on.

Lightning Safety Awareness Week: Zap the myths

Lightning strike at Swifts Creek, NSW, Australia

Florida leads the nation in the number of lightning fatalities. Image courtesy Fir0002/Flagstaffotos.

This is Lightning Safety Awareness Week , and we could all use a refresher course. Main lesson: If you are outside and hear thunder, get inside. Or, as the National Weather Service says, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

Separate the myths and facts. A few facts are these:

  • Lightning CAN strike the same place twice.

  • It can strike without clouds and rain overhead.

  • Your house is generally a safe place to be, but stay away from anything that conducts electricity to avoid a shocking reminder of exactly why.

  • High structures, pointy shapes and being “in the middle of nowhere” are lightning attractors.

  • Lightning speaks with a forked tongue. In other words, it can have multiple attachment points and can spread out some 60 feet after striking the earth.

Lightning demands your respect, so give it from afar. Florida leads the nation in the number of lightning fatalities, and the number of deaths in the first half of this year is already equal to that of 2013.

The Lightning Protection Institute is the place to go for information on protecting your property with protection systems. In Florida, we get more lightning strikes per square mile than any other state, particularly this time of year with tropical storms nearly a daily occurrence. Thankfully, we’re not in the top for the number of lightning-related insurance claims. Some of that may be due to damage amounts being small, such as when a TV blows out. It could also be related to renters who don’t have insurance, which is what happened when lightning struck an apartment complex in Tampa early this month, destroying 18 units and displacing residents.

Check out – and share – these lightning safety videos. Be safe!

This is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and we could all use a refresher course. Main lesson: If you are outside and hear thunder, get inside. Or, as the National Weather Service says, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”