area is under a curfew, allow travel time to and from your home.
Although unusual following a hurricane, crime can also increase. If your
area is under martial law, obey all orders by authorities because they
will be armed.
During a hurricane
and in the cleanup, injuries occur. To avoid injury, use common sense
and wear proper clothing, including clothes with long sleeves and long
pants, and safety shoes or boots.
When Returning to
Your Home After a Hurricane:
- find out if the
authorities have declared the area safe;
- watch for debris
on the road while driving;
- return to your
pre-determined assembly point and/or contact your pre-established
out-of-area contact person. Make sure all family members have been
accounted for and let others know of your status;
- make sure the
main electrical switch to your home is off before entering the
- be careful when
entering a structure that has been damaged;
- if you suspect a
gas leak, leave immediately and notify the gas company;
- if possible,
listen to the radio or contact authorities to find out if sewage
lines are intact before turning on the water or using the toilet;
- report utility
damage to the proper authorities;
- continue to
monitor your radio or television for up-to-date emergency
Upon returning to
dwellings evacuated before the hurricane's arrival, be aware of possible
structural, electrical, or gas-leak hazards. Electrical power and
natural gas or propane tanks should be shut off to avoid fire,
electrocution, or explosions. Try to return to your home during the
daytime so that you do not have to use any lights. Use battery-powered
flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles, gas lanterns, or torches.
If you smell gas or
suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave
the house immediately. Notify the gas company, the police, fire
departments, or State Fire Marshal's office, and do not turn on the
lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark.
Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
system may have been damaged. If you see frayed wiring or sparks when
you restore power, or if there is an odor of something burning but no
visible fire, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at
the main circuit breaker.
You should consult
your utility company about using electrical equipment, including power
generators. Be aware that it is against the law and a violation of
electrical codes to connect generators to your home's electrical
circuits without the approved, automatic-interrupt devices. If a
generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become
a major fire hazard. In addition, the improper connection of a generator
to your home's electrical circuits may endanger line workers helping to
restore power in your area.
equipment and appliances must be completely dry before returning them to
service. It is advisable to have a certified electrician check these
items if there is any question.
PLEASE NOTE: Several
deaths following past hurricanes have occurred due to fires. In many
cases, fires were caused by the careless use of candles to light homes
without electrical power. Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible,
rather than candles. If you use candles, make sure they are in safe
holders away from curtains, paper, wood, or other flammable items. Never
leave a candle burning when you are out of the room.
To avoid other
hurricane-related injuries, you should:
- learn proper
safety procedures and operating instructions before operating any
gas-powered or electric chain saw;
- with an electric
chainsaw, use extreme caution to avoid electrical shock;
- when using any
power equipment, always wear a safety face shield or eyeglasses, and
- avoid all power
lines, particularly those in water;
- avoid wading in
water. Broken glass, metal fragments, and other debris may be
present in the water; and
- be careful of
nails and broken glass when removing boards covering the windows.
Contact your state or
local health department or utility company if you need additional safety
Once you have
established that no structural, electrical, or gas-related hazards exist
in your home, dry and disinfect all materials inside the house to
prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
floors, and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap
and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five
gallons of water. Be particularly careful to thoroughly disinfect
surfaces that may come in contact with food, such as counter tops,
pantry shelves, refrigerators, etc. Areas where small children play
should also be carefully cleaned. Wash all linens and clothing in hot
water, or dry clean them. For items that cannot be washed or dry
cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, air dry them in
the sun and then spray them thoroughly with a disinfectant. Steam clean
all carpeting. If there has been a backflow of sewage into the house,
wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup. Remove and
discard contaminated household materials that cannot be disinfected such
as wall coverings, cloth, rugs, and drywall.
If powerlines are
lying on the ground or dangling near the ground, do not touch the lines.
Notify your utility company as soon as possible that the lines have been
damaged, or that the powerlines are down. Do not attempt to move or
repair the powerlines.
Do not drive through
standing water if downed powerlines are in the water. If a powerline
falls across your car while you are driving, continue to drive away from
the line. If the engine stalls, do not turn off the ignition. Stay in
your car and wait for emergency personnel. Do not allow anyone other
than emergency personnel to approach your vehicle.
Wild or stray
domestic animals can pose a danger during or after the passage of a
hurricane. Remember, most animals are disoriented and displaced, too. Do
not corner an animal. If an animal must be removed, contact your local
animal control authorities.
If you are bitten by
any animal, seek immediate medical attention. If you are bitten by a
snake, first try to accurately identify the type of snake so that, if
poisonous: the correct anti-venom can be administered. Do not cut the
wound or attempt to suck the venom out.
Certain animals may
carry rabies. Although the virus is rare, care should be taken to avoid
contact with stray animals and rodents. Health departments can provide
information on the types of animals that carry rabies in your area.
Rats may also be a
problem during and after a hurricane. Take care to secure all food
supplies, and remove any animal carcasses in the vicinity by contacting
your local animal control authorities.
winds can cause an enormous amount of damage, wind is not the biggest
killer in such a storm. Nine of every ten hurricane fatalities are
drownings associated with swiftly moving waters. People who enter moving
water with their cars, or who get on boats on lakes or bays when a
hurricane strikes the area are at grave risk of drowning, regardless of
their ability to swim. Even very shallow water that is moving swiftly
can be deadly. Cars or other vehicles do not provide adequate
protection. Cars can be swept away or may break down in moving water. Be
alert and follow hazard warnings on roadways or those broadcast by the
media. Police and public works departments should be contacted for
up-to-date information regarding safe roadways.
Be aware of potential
chemical hazards you may encounter when returning to your home,
especially if the hurricane is accompanied by flooding. Floodwaters and
high winds may have moved or buried hazardous chemical containers of
solvents or other industrial chemicals. Contact your local fire
department about inspecting and removing hazardous chemical containers.
Avoid inhaling chemical fumes.
If any propane tanks
(whether 20-lb. tanks from a gas grill or household propane tanks) are
discovered, do not attempt to move them yourself. These represent a very
real danger of fire or explosion, and if any are found, the fire
department, police, or your State Fire Marshal's office should be
Car batteries, while
flooded, may still contain an electrical charge and should be removed
with extreme caution by using insulated gloves. Avoid coming in contact
with any acid that may have spilled from a damaged car battery.
Where and When It's Safe
- Continue to
monitor your radio or television for up-to-date emergency
- Find out what
roads, areas, and buildings are safe to return to. You can get this
information from public announcements or the authorities.
- Avoid moving
water, regardless of depth or speed. Do not drive through flooded
roads. Cars can be swept away or break down.
Buildings may no longer be safe following a hurricane or flood. There
are a number of dangers that you need to be aware of as you return to
and begin cleaning up your home or other building. In general, return to
buildings during the daytime so that you don't have to use any lights
and be aware of possible structural, electrical, or gas-leak hazards.
- Before entering
a building, make sure the main electrical switch is off. Shut off
electrical power and natural gas or propane tanks to avoid fire,
electrocution, or explosions.
- Make sure that
all electrical equipment and appliances are completely dry before
you use them.
- Stay away from
downed power lines. Notify the power company immediately.
- If you suspect a
gas leak, leave immediately and notify the gas company. Do not do
anything that could cause a spark, such as turn on lights, light
matches, or smoke.
- Report utility
damage to the authorities.
- Use battery
powered lanterns and flashlights, if possible, instead of candles.
If you use candles, make sure you put them in safe holders away from
curtains, paper, wood, or other flammable items.
that hurricanes and flood waters may damage, move, or bury dangerous
materials and chemicals.
- Call the fire
department to inspect or remove chemicals and other dangerous
- Call the fire
department to remove propane tanks. Propane tanks can catch on fire
- Wear insulated
gloves and use caution if you have to remove a car battery. Car
batteries can maintain an electrical charge even if flooded.