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Ensuring Health and Safety after a Hurricane
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Following a hurricane, your primary concern is caring for your family and making sure that everyone is safe and well. If anyone is seriously injured or unconscious, call for emergency medical help right away. Keep on listening to local news about emergency reports, road conditions and other relevant information.
You may be anxious to start cleaning up your home and get everything restored as soon as possible, but don't attempt to accomplish everything all in a day. You've just been through a very stressful ordeal so make sure you get much needed rest. The last thing you want is to fall ill from exhaustion.
When Returning Home
As much as you'd like to enter your home, put your safety first. Inspect your home from outside by circling it carefully and checking for any damage to the structure, gas leaks and loose or downed power lines. If these conditions exist, it is best not to enter your home.
Do not attempt to enter a building where floodwaters still remain. It may be necessary to call a water removal expert to extract the water from a flooded home. If your home has suffered from flood damage and/or fire damage, wait for local officials to declare the area safe before entering.
Inside Your Home
If and when you are able to enter your home to begin cleaning, there are several things to watch out for to prevent accidents and other unpleasant incidents. First of all, get out of the building immediately if there are roof and foundation cracks and the building appears to be in danger of collapsing. Also, if there is a hissing sound of gas escaping or you can smell gas, open a window and get out right away.
If there is water damage in your home, never turn on the lights in a room nor check your home's electrical wiring when you are in standing water. Likewise, never operate an electrical appliance if you or the appliance is wet. In all cases, you need to shut down the electricity at your house fuse box and have the electrical system and the appliances inspected by an electrician.
The public sewage and water systems may also have been damaged by the hurricane so ask local officials first if the water is not contaminated before consuming or using any water from your pipes. Switch off the main water valve if there are damaged pipes in your home. Check that sewage pipes are working before flushing toilets to prevent sewage backup.
General Safety Reminders
Immediately after the hurricane, get in touch with your insurance company. Document damages to your home and keep cleaning and repair bills. When cleaning up debris, make sure to wear safety gloves and work boots and practice thorough and frequent hand washing.
Throw out all spoiled consumables and, if the hurricane brought flooding to your home, dispose of foods and kitchen supplies that have been contaminated with flood water. You also may want to leave the cleanup of flood-damaged homes to professionals since flood water is highly contaminated and there is a risk of contracting diseases when exposed to it.
Staying Safe during a Hurricane