In the summer, Florida’s weather is hot and dry, creating ideal conditions for fires. In fact, according to the Florida Division of Forestry, Florida had 96 active wildfires as of early June 2011. In addition to wildfires, household fires can also be a larger concern at this time of year. Each summer, emergency rooms see an increase in the number of Florida burn injury patients and other patients who have suffered smoke inhalation or other fire-related injuries. According to experts, however, there are a number of things that can be done to help prevent such injuries:
1) Install smoke detectors in your home and your vacation home. Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and replace the batteries this week. Fire and smoke detectors are one of the most powerful defenses in your home. They provide an early warning system in the event of fire, giving you and your loved ones enough time to escape smoke and flames. Make sure that all your homes have functioning smoke detectors and make sure that any vacation home you are renting also has smoke detectors that work. Carbon monoxide alarms are also a very affordable safety system for your home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can be fatal. A good alarm can save your life.
2) Develop a safety action plan for fire in your home. Knowing what to do in the event of a fire can save seconds, which can help you avoid burn injuries and other dangers. Create a safety evacuation plan with your family for your home and summer home. Practice the plan quarterly. Your local fire department may have a template for a safety plan and may be able to help you develop a good plan of escape.
3) Stay alert to the danger of wildfires. Wildfires in Florida do pose a danger. Avoid areas affected by wildfires and ensure that your children do not approach wildfire areas. If anyone in your home is experiencing breathing problems or dizziness, seek medical attention. The smoke from the fires may be affecting your family’s health.
4) Store flammable materials carefully. Gasoline and other flammables should be stored in a cool, dry place, well out of children’s reach. Never store containers of flammable liquid where they may be exposed to heat or flame.
5) Be aware that summertime activities such as fireworks, barbecues, and bonfires pose a significant danger. If you will be taking advantage of the weather to have a bonfire or barbecue, have a fire extinguishing system on hand and make sure that you create a safe fire or barbecue. Never use flammable liquids to accelerate the fire and pay attention to the news – if the weather in your area is very dry, you may not be permitted to have open flames on your property.
6) Be aware of the secondary dangers of fires – especially large wildfires. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), smoke can be dangerous, especially for those who are elderly or have compromised respiratory systems. Smoke actually contains fine particles (usually residue from burning trees and matter) as well as gas. This can irritate respiratory systems and eyes and can aggravate serious lung and heart conditions. According to the CDS, those with lung or heart disease or respiratory ailments should stay alert to updates about wildfires in their area. If there are wildfires present and smoke is in the air, those who are vulnerable should limit time outdoors and should keep doors and windows closed to avoid exposure to smoke. If air condition is required, change filters often and keep fresh-air intakes closed while running air conditioning systems.
7) Develop safety systems in your home. Keep fire extinguishers in your home (especially in the kitchen) and have them tested periodically for efficiency. As well, if your home has two or more stories, have a method of escape in the event of a fire. A simple under-window escape ladder is inexpensive and can save lives.
If you have suffered a burn injury in Florida or any other fire-related injury, you could be facing substantial income loss and considerable medical bills. However, you may also be entitled to more compensation than you realize. Contact the Flaxman Law Group at our offices in Miami, Homestead, or Hollywood. Our experienced legal team has decades of experience to assist you. Your first consultation with us is free and comes with no obligation, so call today to discuss your case.