While most South Florida residents understand the importance of preparing in advance for a hurricane and prioritizing safety above all else during a major storm, many people do not think about the safety risks involved with returning home once a storm is over. Most people want to get home, survey the damage and start putting the pieces back together as soon as possible.
While this is understandable, it is important not to overlook the safety risks involved in returning home, particularly before utilities and other services have been repaired and restored. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers these tips for staying safe after a major hurricane:
1. Listen to Authorities
“Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.” Lane reversals and road closures are often necessary when trying to get everyone home as quickly and safely as possible. Know where you can (and can’t) go, and be prepared to wait with everyone else.
2. Be Careful During Cleanup
“Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.” After a storm, standing structures can be unstable, and broken glass, gas leaks and downed trees are just some of the hazards that can present risks for serious injury.
3. Stay Away from Electricity
“Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.” Electricity and water do not mix. Electric shock is one of the biggest dangers facing homeowners in the aftermath of a major storm; and, when in doubt, it is best to stay away.
4. Avoid Wading in Floodwater
“Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.” Once again, safety needs to be your first priority. Due to the risk of electrical shock, even an inch of standing water can be extremely dangerous, and deep waters can carry currents that are much faster than they look on the surface.
5. Save Phone Calls for Emergencies
“Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.” After a major hurricane, everybody wants to call everybody else. To help make sure that emergency calls can get through, try to limit your phone calls for the first couple of days of the storm recovery process.
6. Document Your Property Damage
“Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.” If your home sustained damage in the storm, it will be important for you to document the damage before removing debris or making any temporary repairs. Here are some more tips for filing an insurance claim after a damaging hurricane.
Contact Saavedra | Goodwin in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Saavedra | Goodwin is a Fort Lauderdale insurance claim law firm that represents homeowners who have suffered property damage in hurricanes and tropical storms. If you need help dealing with your insurance company or have questions about the recovery process, we invite you to call (954) 767-6333 or contact us online for a confidential consultation.