It is important to remember that once a Hurricane or Tropical Storm has passed, many dangers still exist. You must continue to remain alert at all times, carefully and promptly following directions from your Public Safety officials.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) offers these tips for after a Hurricane or Tropical Storm:
- If you have been evacuated, do not return to your home until you have been directed to do so by state or local officials.
- Keep tuned to local media for information about such things as caring for your household, where to find medical help, and applying for financial assistance.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org
- Do not become a spectator. Unnecessary travel into the most impacted areas could hinder the efforts of Public Safety officials.
- Drive only when and where necessary. Streets may be filled with debris or flooded. Closed roads are for your protection, in that they may be flooded, weakened and could collapse.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Upon returning, do not turn on any electronic equipment until the electricity has been safely restored.
- Be sure to check all electronic equipment for water damage. If you are uncertain, throw them away. It is better to be safe than risk electrocution.
- Watch for loose or dangling powerlines. Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by trees or debris, and could be live. Never attempt to touch or moved downed lines. Keep children and pets away from them.
- If there is structural damage to your home or downed trees in the yard, use care.
- Open doors and windows to ventilate you home.
- Do not call your 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency. Call 2-1-1 for information or questions.
- Use bottled water until local officials have determined the safety of the water supply.
- Guard against spoiled food. If the power was disrupted, food in the refrigerator may have spoiled. Freezers can keep food for several days if unopened. Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using a generator. Always use outdoors, away from windows and doors. Carbon Monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly accumulate indoors. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator directly into household wiring, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.
- If there is property damage, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures or video of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Do not turn your yard into a dump. Have debris hauled away before it causes additional health hazards.
- Yards that have been contaminated by flooded sewage systems should be disinfected by a liberal application of lime. Children and animals should be kept away from limed areas until the lime is no longer visible.
- If your home, apartment or business has suffered damage, call your insurance company or agent who handles your flood insurance right away to file a claim. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) through the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA). The NFIP makes flood insurance available in communities that adopt and enforce ordinances to reduce flood damage.
- Be a good neighbor. Make sure those around you are safe and have the help that they need.
- Be prepared for a rough time. Recovering from a hurricane is a big job. It is taxing on the body and spirit. The after-effects of this type of disaster on you and your family may last a long time. Consult a health professional on how to recognize and care for anxiety, stress and fatigue. For free disaster crisis counseling, call 1-800-985-5990.
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