Danger from a hurricane doesn’t end when the storm passes. Preparedness is not only to know what to do before, but also after the storm.
Debris, downed electric lines, flooding, fallen trees and animals driven from their normal habitat can all cause problems.
Wells can be tainted, and municipal water supplies may be contami nated or not available.
In that case, use your emergency supply of water – a gallon per person per day – and do not use any water that isn’t purified for cooking, drinking, washing dishes or even brushing your teeth. If you have any doubt about the purity of the water, boil it or disinfect it.
You may be without electricity for several days. You should have turned your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings before the storm. Also, a full freezer stays cold longer. If there is spare space in the freezer before the storm, you can add water containers to make ice.
If the door isn’t opened, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. After the storm, open the refrigerator as little as possible.
If you can get dry ice, a 25-pound block will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for three or four days. Don’t handle dry ice with your bare hands.
To minimize how long you open the freezer, keep a list of what it contains posted on the door.
Thawed food can be eaten if it is still cold, and can be refrozen if it still has ice crystals. Eat perishable food first.
If you have any doubt whether food has spoiled, throw it out.
Wash your hands well and often with soap and purified water. This is especially important for children and can help keep disease from spreading if the water supply has been contaminated or there has been flooding.
If you get a cut, quickly wash it with soap and purified water, then apply a disinfectant such as alcohol or antibiotic salve.
Unless you have no other choice, avoid using candles for light while the electricity is out. They have caused a number of fires, and fire departments will be busy with other disaster tasks, making it diffi cult to respond.
Use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns.
If you are cooking on a gas grill or using charcoal, be sure it’s out side or in a well-ventilated area.
Avoid any downed or sagging power lines. Don’t attempt to move or repair them, and notify the electric company as soon as possible.
Don’t drive through standing water if power lines are in the water.
If a line falls across your car, continue driving. Do not turn off the ignition if the car stalls and do not leave the car. Wait for emergency personnel and do not let anyone else approach your vehicle.
Be careful when clearing fallen trees that may have entangled a power line. Also try to avoid contact with metal fences since a distant line you don’t notice could be touching it.
Propane tanks can float away during floods. They could be damaged and present a risk of fire or explosion. Don’t attempt to move them yourself. Contact the fire department instead.
Flood waters can carry a number of contaminants from sewage to chemicals. Don’t let children play in the flood waters and avoid them as much as possible.
Wild or domestic animals can cause problems after a hurricane. Animals can be driven from their natural territories. Never corner an animal. Even mild, friendly pets can become hostile after a hurricane.
Be sure to keep all food supplies sealed and secure since rats can be a problem in the storm’s aftermath.
And watch for snakes. Most snakes are not poisonous but may still bite if you try to pick them up or get close.
If you evacuated, you will not be allowed back to your home until emergency workers have cleared downed trees and power lines.
Still, use caution driving home. Debris can puncture tires and roads may be flooded.
You should have identification. Police will check to be sure only people living in the area are allowed into a neighborhood.
If there is any damage to your home, contact your insurance com pany as soon as possible. Take photographs before making any repairs and keep receipts.
Then make necessary repairs to prevent additional damage such as patching holes in the roof or covering broken windows.
If the damage is severe and street signs are down, spray paint your address and the name of your insurance company on your house where it can easily be seen.