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Residents advised to remove shutters, be aware of hazards

October 4, 2017
By MELISSA BILL (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Even though cleanup efforts are under way, Lehigh Acres fire officials worry that some of the preparations made before the storm to save lives could end up costing a life.

"Many residents are choosing to leave their hurricane shutters up until the end of hurricane season," Fire Chief Robert Dilallo said.

He explained that though it takes time to take down the plywood or shutters that offered you and your home protection during a storm, leaving a house boarded up can be devastating in other situations.

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MELISSA BILL
Lehigh Acres officials warn of dangers in leaving storm shutters up.

"It can be tempting to leave them up until the end of hurricane season. However, hurricane shutters can be unsafe and even deadly when left on your windows. This creates a major fire danger for both the residents and fire crews," Dilallo said.

Fire rescue crews said covered windows can block your only exit out in the case of a fire and, just as importantly, delay firefighters getting to the flames to put them out.

In addition to a fire concern, there are other safety hazards that need to be considered.

"Homes that are left boarded up for long periods of time tend to develop mold and mildew, which is a health issue," said Fire Commissioner Linda Carter.

Officials also pointed out that keeping hurricane shutters up can actually attract burglars instead of deter them because they think the house is boarded up because no one is home.

Officials also noted the large amount of horticultural debris left behind by Hurricane Irma.

"With dry season right around the corner, we are already vulnerable to fires. Now, we also have dead trees laying in vacant lots and huge piles of debris off to the side of the road, which concerns us because they are highly flammable," Dilallo said.

The fire district advises people to be extra careful in the coming weeks and is hopeful that Lee County will expedite debris cleanup in the area. For now, residents can take extra precautions to keep their family safe by checking their home smoke detectors to ensure they work properly in the event of a fire.

The month of October kicks off the National Fire Protection Association's Fire Prevention Week. This year's theme is "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!" and reinforces the need for an escape plan.

For more information or educational materials, visit online at: www.nfpa.org.

 
 

 

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