WHAT TO DO AFTER A HURRICANE
Hurricanes have been known to cause severe damage to property, as well as disrupt lives and cause serious injury. After a hurricane, there may be power outages, flooding, downed electrical wires, and debris, all of which can be a hazard to your health and safety.
Power Outages and Carbon Monoxide
Gasoline-powered generators release carbon monoxide (CO) which can be deadly. If your power goes out and you are using a gasoline-powered generator for energy, be sure that the generator is installed safely and far from your home. Never use your generator indoors or in an enclosed area, like a garage.
For more information on how to safely use gasoline-powered generators and how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning go to DPH's carbon monoxide web page.
Strong winds from a hurricane can knock down electrical wires. Some of these wires may be live. If you see a downed wire, DO NOT TOUCH IT as it could shock you and even kill you. Report it to your local police, power company, or fire department.
Severe rain during a hurricane could cause flooding which may cause structural damage, mold, and free asbestos or lead pieces. Broken glass, splintered wood, exposed nails and water-damaged electrical devices can cause electric shock, cuts and other injuries.
After a flood you should:
- Check your home for loose power lines, gas leaks, foundation cracks or other damage.
- Turn off your electricity before entering your home to avoid electrical shock.
- Enter your home carefully. If your door is hard to open, it could be because your ceiling is sagging. Open the door and wait for debris to fall.
- Check your ceiling for signs of sagging.
- Shovel out any mud and remove water quickly with a mop, squeegee, water-rated pump or wet vacuum.
- Take pictures of your home, its contents and any damage for your insurance claim.
- Roads may be flooded and bridges washed-out so avoid driving in flooded areas.
Water damage will cause mold to grow in your home. Porous items that have stayed wet in a home for more than 48 hours should be removed and thrown away. People with asthma and are sensitive to mold should consider having somebody else do the clean-up.
Food and water
Food may spoil if there is a loss of electricity. Check for and throw away any spoiled food. According to the FDA, refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F).
For more detailed food safety guidance including water consumption safety visit the FDA website.
Snakes, rodents, raccoons and other wild animals may have been driven out of their homes by damage from the storm as well. When working around your home, be aware of animals as they may bite or carry disease.
Standing water after the storm can be the perfect place for disease-causing insects, like mosquitoes, to lay eggs. Empty out containers with standing water. Use bug-repellant which has 10-35% DEET to protect yourself from bug bites.
Other helpful links and resources:
For more information about emergency preparedness contact DPH's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at 860-509-8282