By Jarrod Heil
What to Do After a Hurricane: 7 Tips for Staying Safe After the Storm
When a hurricane hits, the trouble has only just begun. Picking up the fragments after whipping winds have passed – while staying safe at the same time – is a crucial, often overlooked piece of putting everything back together after the hurricane.
Even if your home has not been directly damaged during a hurricane, these powerful storms tend to have a domino effect, creating dangerous situations you need to be aware of and steer clear of.
There are many safety precautions you can take to ensure that you and your family stay safe from a hurricane’s collateral damage. By following these seven steps, you can keep yourself, your family and your friends safe after a hurricane.
1. Avoid Standing Water
Heavy rains often lead to flooding, and many storms have the potential to knock down powerlines, which can create electrical currents that pass through the ground and standing water. In the aftermath of a hurricane, you need to avoid downed powerlines and standing water at all costs — including driving, walking and wading through water.
Whether or not a powerline directly touches a puddle or larger body of standing water, an electric current could still generate enough power to electrocute anything or anyone that even touches the water.
Even if the off-chance of electric currents aren’t generated, you still never know what rests below those puddles in the middle of the road. Large sinkholes are often masked as small puddles and can be catastrophic to your safety if they’re driven through.
Those puddles have also been known to contain bacteria and sharp objects that cause long-term damage to your health. You should avoid standing water at all costs!
2. Turn Off Gas Pipes
If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off your home’s main gas valve immediately. If you evacuate or suspect the power will go out during the storm and you don’t need to use any gas, it’s better to turn it off beforehand.
A burst gas pipe within your home could lead to extremely dangerous conditions inside. It could create a toxic poison in your home, which is then used to breathe in, or it could be devastating to your home by catching fire and leading to a complete loss of your home and belongings.
3. Beware of Carbon Monoxide
The threat of carbon monoxide entering your home is an often-overlooked risk that derives from the use of generators. Carbon monoxide overtakes oxygen with poisonous gas, which can lead to death. It’s important to always run your generators outside and a safe distance from windows, doors and vents.
If you’re using a generator, it’s also a good idea to keep a carbon monoxide detector inside your home’s closest opening to the generator. If any carbon dioxide is accidentally entering your home, it will detect these gases before they pose a threat.
If your neighbor is using a generator after the storm, keep a close eye on it to make sure it’s not too close to your home. Beware of your surroundings and you should have no problem staying safe after the hurricane.
4. Use Bottled Water
If a hurricane ravages your town, or those towns next to it, one of the first things to happen is the loss of power. Since electricity runs the filtration system of the entire city’s drinking water and the pipes powering said water into your home, it’s not safe to drink, clean or cook with faucet water.
If you’ve followed our Hurricane Safety Checklist, you’ve stocked up on enough bottled water and non-perishable food items to get you through the hurricane and the recovery period.
5. Avoid Hazardous Debris
Any debris caused by a hurricane could potentially be hazardous, so it’s best to avoid it at all costs. Debris can be fallen trees, roof tiles, window panes and many other materials, which are often riddled with rusty nails, sharp edges or other things that can be hazardous for your health.
While debris may seem harmless upon first glance, it’s best to steer clear in case it poses danger. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself, especially since hospitals and urgent cares may be overcrowded and doctor offices may not be open.
6. Don’t Return Home Until It’s Safe
If you’ve evacuated your home during the hurricane, you’re probably itching to get back there to see if any damage occurred and to get back to your everyday life. Unfortunately, returning home isn’t that easy and it’s not always safe to do so.
Check your local news outlets to stay up to date with evacuation procedures and when it’s safe to return. If the area has been ravaged and there’s still no power, or potentially dangerous conditions remain, it’s best to stay put until everything has been cleared.
7. Do What You Need to Do to Keep Everyone Safe
If you stayed in your home and it has sustained damage, such as a broken window or a leaking roof, you may need to repair it to your best ability to prevent further damage. If you need to buy supplies from the store or call a contractor to conduct repairs, be sure to keep your receipts. So you can turn them in with your hurricane home insurance claim. Just remember, stay safe.
If you follow these seven simple steps in the aftermath of a hurricane, you can help to keep yourself and your family safe well after the storm has passed!