Hurricanes and Storms: What to do During and After

During a storm, or even if a hurricane or storm is over, there is still potential danger. It’s important to keep loved ones safe by following suggested safety tips.

Keep Away from Floodwater and Power Lines

Pay attention to all warnings about flooded roads. Cars and trucks won’t protect you from the floodwater and instead will stall or be swept away in the moving water. If for some reason you must be near or in floodwater, use a life jacket, especially if water levels are rising. After you have been in floodwater, wash your hands with soap and warm water or use sanitizer. Floodwater can have several things that are harmful to health, including livestock and human waste, wild animals, dangerous chemicals, germs, or other things that can make you unsafe or sick.

Just as you should be mindful around floodwater, you should also pay close attention to power lines. Stay clear of any power lines and watch out for any fallen lines that could be hanging overhead.

Don’t go out driving or traveling unnecessarily, as this added traffic can prevent essential personnel from getting to the right place for people that need help. You can also inadvertently get yourself in a situation with bad floodwaters and need help yourself.

Don’t Use Any Wet Electrical Devices

If you didn’t turn off electricity before the storm hit, turn off power at the main breaker in your house in the event of flooding or water damage. Before using any electronics, wait for an electrician to check to make sure the main breaker is still safe. Assume any downed lines are live electrical wires unless proven otherwise.

Stay Safe in Power Outages

It’s important to be prepared for extended power outages after a storm. The stronger the storm, the more likely power will be out. During a power outage, it’s safer to use flashlights instead of candles. If candles are your only option, then make sure they stay away from anything that is flammable. Always stay near or in the room with any lit candles. Have a fire extinguisher handy and make sure everyone in your household knows how to use it.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Any fuel-burning equipment can create carbon monoxide. This can include items such as camp stoves, charcoal grills, pressure washers, or generators. You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but it can easily build up in the home. Too much buildup can cause sudden illness, sometimes resulting in death. Don’t use any camp stoves or portable gasoline equipment in your garage, basement, or inside your home. Not only do you need to keep it outside, but it should also be at least 20 feet away from any vents, doors, and windows. If you are using a generator or anything that burns fuel, use a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. If it’s not battery-operated, it should at least have a battery backup. If your detector starts beeping, leave the home immediately.

Stay Safe from Pests and Unfamiliar Animals

Insects can breed quickly in floodwaters. Use insect repellent and wear socks, pants, and long sleeves when outside. Stay away from stray or wild animals after a storm and report any dead animals on your property to local officials. Animals, especially strays, may be more scared, agitated, and more prone to bite, scratch, or attack. Use caution when approaching any strays, no matter how innocent they seem.

Use Caution Near Damaged Buildings

Hurricanes can cause damage to buildings and make them unsafe. Don’t enter a building, even your home, unless authorities determine it is safe if there has been any kind of structural damage. If you hear unusual or shifting noises, then proceed with caution moving about your home.

Be Mindful of Food and Water Safety

You want to throw away any food that encountered floodwaters. Unsafe food may still smell or taste normal but can make you sick. Any perishable items that haven’t been refrigerated properly because of power outages should also be disposed of. If there is an unusual color, texture, odor, or you are in doubt, throw it away to be safe. Refrigerated foods can be kept for up to four hours. Any perishable foods that have been above 40 degrees for more than two hours should be thrown away.

Pay attention to what local officials are saying about water and the precautions you should be taking. Any water that is contaminated should not be used to wash dishes, prepare food, brush your teeth, make ice or baby formula. Use treated, bottled, or boiled water for cooking, drinking, and personal hygiene. Your local health department will make recommendations on how to treat or boil the water in your area.

Best Hygiene and First Aid Practices

Good hand washing and basic personal hygiene are important to prevent illness and disease. It’s especially important after a hurricane, but it can be hard to have safe, clean, water in order to do so. Use only clean water to bathe and brush your teeth. The risk for injury after a natural disaster such as a hurricane can be high. Get first aid help quickly in order to treat any small wounds and prevent infection. It’s extra important to avoid contact with flood waters if you have any open wounds, including scrapes and cuts. Use a waterproof bandage in order to reduce the chances of infection.

Safely Clean Up Your Home

When cleaning up your home after a hurricane, have the right safety gear, including N95 masks, goggles, hard hats, work gloves, waterproof boots with a steel insole and toe, protective headphones, and extinguishers. If any sewage is involved, you need rubber gloves and rubber boots.

To prevent mold growth, dry out your home as quickly as possible after the flood ends: within 24 or 48 hours if possible. Air out your home by opening windows and doors. Use fans pointed to blow air out windows and doors. Throw away anything that can’t be dried quickly or cleaned, such as carpet, mattresses, wall coverings, paper products, upholstered furniture, baby toys, and pillows. The best way to clean up mold is with a mixture of water and bleach. If there is a boil-water advisory in effect, then it is suggested to use water for cleaning that has been boiled for one minute and allowed to cool. Use precautions when using bleach, including opening doors and windows first, and never use it in a closed space. Never mix bleach with ammonia. Anything that has come in contact with floodwater could carry germs. In order to keep your family safe, this includes throwing out kids’ toys if needed.

Check with your local authorities when it comes to disposing of debris. It may help garbage get picked up faster to separate it into different piles, such as building materials, regular bagged garbage, and yard debris.

Take Care of Your Emotional Health as Well as Physical Health

Any physical health needs after a hurricane should be addressed as soon as possible, but it’s also important to pay attention to your emotional health. During and after a storm, it’s natural to experience a lot of strong emotions. Getting help when needed can help you and your community recover faster from a disaster. Connecting with friends, family, and others in your community can aid in this process. Natural disasters can be traumatic, especially for children. Take the time to talk to your kids about their experiences and listen to what they have to say.

Prepare for the Next Hurricane

It’s always important to prepare for the next hurricane or storm. If you were fortunate enough to have only suffered minimal damage or the hurricane missed your area, it can be easy to just move on with life without thinking about what could lie ahead. Having proper hurricane panels, shutters, and screens can ensure that your home is protected before the next storm hits! The experts at Home Safety Solutions are here to help you decide which hurricane protection is right for your property. The best time to prepare for the next storm is the present. Contact us to start protecting your home now!