Hurricanes account for an average of 17 deaths annually in the United States, according to research. A study of Hurricane Ike found a majority of those deaths were indirectly related to the storm and happened after the storm system had passed.
In 2008, 49 of the 74 deaths in Texas from Hurricane Ike happened due to indirect causes, such as falling branches.
Experts say those deaths and many others like them can be easily avoided.
Carbon monoxide poisoning: You might think drowning is the leading cause of death from a hurricane, but the 2011 Hurricane Ike study found carbon monoxide poisoning is much more deadly.
Of the 74 deaths, 13 were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. That equates to around 18 per cent of all deaths from the storm. The study found nearly all of those deaths (82 to 87 per cent) happened due to improper use of a portable generator.
Falling limbs: Nine per cent of Hurricane Ike deaths were caused from falling tree limbs, and the deaths can highlight the dangers before and after the storm hits.
For example, a 10-year-old boy was killed by a falling limb a day before Ike hit, and a utility company employee died four days after the storm had already passed when a branch hit him.
The dangers of hurricanes aren’t just on the day the storm hits.
Driving into flood waters: If you see flood waters, you shouldn’t try to drive through them. It takes two feet of water to carry away most vehicles.
Electrocution: Hurricane-force winds can knock down power lines, and those lines can pose dangers for people and homes nearby. One person died from electrocution in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
If you see a power line on the ground, you should stay away from it.
Fire: Fires don’t seem like an immediate concern, but they can be. During Hurricane Ike, three people died from fires. Those fires usually start from candles used in a home or live power lines that sparked a fire.
Drowning: Some of the best advice is to stay indoors or evacuate the area.
(c)2012 the Houston Chronicle
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