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Staying Safe After a Storm

It is critical that homeowners returning after a hurricane put safety first. Here are a few important tips to ensure homeowner safety.
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  • Post Storm Inspection

    Homeowners need to use caution when re-entering their homes and to do so only after floodwaters have receded. FLASH recommends that you visually inspect your home for any damage that could make it unsafe to enter.

    Inspect your home's foundation for cracks or other damage. Look for broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces or electrical appliances that may be fire hazards.

    FEMA advises that fire is the most frequent hazard following floods. Check the electrical system for broken or frayed wires. If you see sparks or smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.

    Do not attempt to get to the circuit breaker or fuse box if you have to step in water. Call an electrician for assistance. Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
    You may not have immediate access to your home. Roads could be blocked, power lines could be down, and people may be trapped and in need of assistance.
  • Make sure that you have current identification. You may have to pass through identification checkpoints before being allowed access to your home/neighborhood.
  • Avoid driving, as roads may be blocked. Avoid sight-seeing, or entering a storm ravaged area unnecessarily. You could be mistaken for a looter.
  • If driving cannot be avoided, do not attempt to drive through floodwaters. Remember the slogan, Turn Around Don't Drown, as there could be unseen dangers, such as downed power lines, debris or a washed out roadway.
  • Avoid downed power lines, even if they look harmless. Avoid metal fences and other metal objects near downed lines.
  • DO NOT use matches in a storm ravaged area until all gas lines are checked for leaks. (Keep flashlights and plenty of batteries at hand.)
  • Avoid turning the power on at your home if there is flooding present. Have a professional conduct a thorough inspection first.
  • When using a generator, make sure to operate it outdoors and away from openings in the home, including air-conditioning units.
  • Consider having professionals/licensed contractors inspect your home for damage and help in repairs. This includes electricians, as well as professionals to inspect gas lines, remove uprooted trees, and check plumbing. Downed or damaged trees can contain power lines that pose an electrocution threat.
  • Use a camera or camcorder to record thoroughly any damage done to your home, before any repairs are attempted.
  • In certain areas, the flooding rains that accompany a storm can create pest problems. Be aware of potential pest problems in your area, such as mice, rats, insects or snakes that may have "come with the storm".
  • Telephone lines will likely be busy in the area; use a phone only for emergencies.
  • Flooding brings with it the risk of waterborne bacterial contaminations. You should assume that the water is not safe and use properly stored water, or boil your tap water.
  • Do not eat any perishable food that has not been refrigerated.

Text by Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH)
© 2005 Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.




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