As Hurricane Harvey moves in on Texas, many have already evacuated. Others are hunkering down in their homes. Once Harvey has moved on, people will begin the process of cleaning up their property and businesses and many emergency services are expected to be part of the process. At this time, Harvey has already dumped more than 15 trillion gallons of water on Texas. In light of this major disaster, and keeping in mind that there are still a few months left in hurricane season, below has some tips about dealing with the effects of a hurricane.
What to Do if Evacuated
First, you should not return home simply because the storm has moved out of the area. Continue to listen for alerts. There may be extensive flooding, or roads may be otherwise impassable. Wait until officials give the all clear before attempting to return home. Be aware of flooded areas or unaccessable roads. Some experts advise you to only drive if necessary.
What to Do if You Stayed
Experts caution against driving unless it is absolutely necessary. You should stay away from downed power lines even if the power is out. If possible, report any downed or hanging lines to the power company. Be sure to stay out of flooded buildings or buildings with standing water around them. Remember that standing water can be contaminated after a hurricane.
Take special precautions in the first days after the hurricane has passed. If you are using a generator, be very careful to be sure it’s being used safely. The generator should never be kept inside your home. In fact, most generators should be kept in an open area outside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a generator in the basement, garage, or a crawlspace in your home.
If you are without power for several days, check any food in your refrigerator. If you suspect it is spoiled, dispose of it properly. Do not use water from the tap for cooking until officials have deemed it safe. You may need to boil water in the meantime. The same caution should be taken with drinking tap water. You are encouraged to use flashlights, but extra care should be taken when using candles. Never fall asleep while candles are burning. It is not advised that you use a telephone (landline) unless it is an absolute emergency. Also, keep your pets indoors or in a safe, fenced-in area at all times.
Finally, once power has been restored, do not turn on all your major appliances at once. If you will restore power to them in a gradual manner, you will lower the chance of damaging sensitive equipment.
What to Do During Clean-up
Rest assured that insurance adjusters will be deployed to an area affected by a hurricane. However, they may not arrive for many days or even a few weeks after the storm has passed. This does not mean you should just leave everything as is until the adjuster can come to your property. Take pictures of any damage your home or property has sustained. This includes pictures of the outside and inside of your home. You should also include pictures of your contents that might need to be replaced. This includes the food in your freezer or refrigerator that you had to throw out after the power outage.
As the water levels go down, you might want to consider adding flood sensors to detect leaks or water as it recedes. Flood sensors make detecting a leak painless and can be added in most home systems. It might even prove useful the next time tropical storms hit.
Take Precautions After A Hurricane
Once you have been given the go ahead to clean up your property, certain precautions should be taken. First, always wear protective clothing and proper gloves when cleaning. Use caution when moving limbs or other debris as well.