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What to do after a hurricane

POSTED: July 13, 2010 3:31 p.m.
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When you come back into an area after a storm you'll find demolished buildings and downed power lines. So be careful.

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After the hurricane is over you should...
• Keep listening to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for instructions.

• Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.

• If you evacuated, return home only when local officials tell you it is safe to do so -- officials can deny you re-entry to areas deemed dangerous (this will depend on the severity of the storm, scale of damage, and cleanup progress)

• Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads or washed-out bridges

• Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company

• Stay out of any building that has water around it

• Inspect your home for damage, and take pictures for insurance purposes

• Use flashlights in the dark, not candles

• Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.

• Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.

• Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.

• Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.

• Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

Inspecting Utilities in a Damaged Home

• Check for gas leaks -- if you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, a professional must turn it back on.

• Look for electrical system damage . If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.

• Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using the water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

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