Emergency Preparedness: After a Hurricane

The aftermath of a hurricane can be devastating. Make sure you are prepared for the worst and can recover quickly.

After the storm has passed, you can begin the process of recovering. What you do next depends on what risks and dangers remain in the aftermath. Know what you need to do to ensure you and your family recover quickly – and safely – from the destructive power of a hurricane. Think of recovery in these 4 steps:

1. Stay Informed

To ensure your family’s safety after the hurricane, it’s vital you stay abreast of any follow-up emergencies and threats. Extended rainfall and flooding can occur even after the initial storm has passed. Listen to local radio and TV stations as well as the NOAA for updates and emergency alerts.

2. Stay Away

If you chose to evacuate, don’t let curiosity get the best of you. Roads and travel may still be extremely dangerous with flooding, debris, power lines and other travelers. Unless you have to be on the road, don’t. Let emergency personnel and utility workers travel freely so they can help expedite the recovery of your community and ensure everyone’s safety. Read our article on what to do after a flood to learn more.

3. Stay Smart

While you are outside, keep your wits about you and your eyes open for danger. Do not go near any loose or downed power lines and immediately call your power company so they can fix the lines. If a building is surrounded by water, do not enter it. Let authorities know and stay out until it has been cleared as safe to enter.
Wear protective clothing as you begin the cleanup process: long pants, gloves and shoes with thick soles. Now is not the time to be out in flip flops and shorts.

If you’ve lost power …
Use flashlights, not candles to illuminate your home. Check the food in your refrigerator to see if it’s spoiled. If you have a doubt, throw it out.

And if you have a generator …
Use it properly. Do not use it indoors – that includes your garage, basement or car-port or any partially-enclosed area. Even with “ventilation” like open doors and windows and a fan, carbon monoxide (CO) can build up and quickly incapacitate and kill. And because you can neither smell nor see CO, you won’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late. (Learn more about Carbon Monoxide sensors and other home security equipment.)

Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty extension cord that’s rated properly for your use. NEVER attempt “backfeeding” by plugging your generator into a wall outlet. This is extremely dangerous and puts utility workers and neighbors on the same utility transfer at unnecessary risk.

4. Document Everything

As you begin your process of cleaning up your home and property, document all the damage you identify with photos or video. Keep an inventory of all missing, damaged or destroyed items. If necessary, take additional steps to prevent further damage as some insurance may not cover damage that occurs after the hurricane.

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to begin the claim process.

Make sure everyone in your family knows your emergency preparedness plan. Practice what to do to prepare for an emergency – as well as what you should do during and after to ensure everyone knows what to do to stay safe. Learn more about proper emergency preparedness by visiting Ready.gov to learn more and participate in National Preparedness Month.

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