AFTER A DISASTER
Returning to your home after a major disaster can be both dangerous and emotional. Use caution when going back to your home after you have been asked to evacute. Make sure that it is safe to travel through the areas between where you were sheltered and your home. Be prepared to have to adapt to certain changes to the area and possibly your home.
- Turn on the radio or TV for any updates on the situation.
- Provide any first aid that you can to injured or trapped people that may be in the area
- Do not use telephones unless it is an emergency.
- Wear heavy clothing and sturdy shoes to protect yourself.
- Do not use food that may be spoiled if the power was off for some time. Do not eat or drink anything that has had any contact with flood water.
- Extinguish all open flames.
- Check for gas leaks, if not already turned off at the direction of local officials. If you smell gas, turn off the main valve, open the windows and leave the house.
- Check for water leaks,if not already turned off at the direction of local officials. If water leaks are suspected, shut off the water at the main water valve.
- If instructed to do so by local officials, shut off utilities. Always have utilities turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage. If there is damage to the electrical system, turn off the system at the main circuit breaker or fuse box.
- Check electrical appliances.
- Investigate outbuildings. Be careful when entering a damaged building. Stay away from fallen or damaged electrical wires. Use a flashllight to inspect damage. Do not carry lanterns or torches that could start a fire.
- Check to make sure the sewage lines are intact before flushing the toilet.
- Check house, roof and chimney for structural damage.
- Open closets and cupboards carefully.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.
- Don't drive unless absolutely necessary. Stay off the roads so that emergency workers can move quickly. Stay out of their way as they work.
- Clear away any debris that may be obstructing fire hydrants so the fire department has easy access to it.
- Keep listening to radio or TV for news about what to do, where to go, what places are dangerous due to fallen trees, unsafe bridges etc. Listen for the possiblity of another tornado, more flooding etc.
- Don't ration water. A normally active person needs at least two quarts of water daily and up to twice that amount in hot weather. Drink what you need and keep looking for more. Don't drink floodwater, water from waterbeds or any water that has a dark color or odor to it. You can use water from the tank of your toilet, pipes, ice cube trays or your hot water tank. You can collect rainwater and water from streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and natural springs. Be sure to boil any water you drink or use for cooking.
- If your stove isn't working you can cook in a fireplace (if the chimney isn't damaged), candle warmers, chafing dishes or fondue pots. Charcoal grills and camp stoves should only be used outdoors. Do not build a fire inside a carport, a fire can send sparks into the roof and start a house fire.
- If you heat canned food be sure to take off the paper label and open the can first.
- Use up perishable food from the refrigerator first and then the freezer.
- Assume all wires lying on the ground are dangerous and don't touch.
- Floodwater, even as little as six inches of water can sweep you off your feet.
- Disease carrying animals and poisonous snakes may be homeless also. Avoid putting your hands or feet under debris where an animal may be hiding. Wear boots and heavy pants when clearing out debris.
- Disasters can bring out looters and con artists. Be wary of people who offer to help if you don't know them, they are not of the community or of a well known organization. If your house is looted notify the police.
- Keep an eye on children. Dangerous items in your house may have been knocked out of their usual places and could get into children's hands.
- Make necessary immediate repairs to prevent further damage.
- Maintain as much of a normal routine as possible. Make sure your child gets to school (if it's open) and keeps up with homework. Have meals together as a family. Find time to be together. List important jobs and chores to get done, check them off your list as they are done. As you return to familiar routines, you'll start to feel
- that life is returning to normal once again.
CHECKING ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES
- If any of the electrical appliances are wet, turn off the main power switch in the house. Unplug the appliance, dry it out, then re-connect it and turn the main power switch back on. If fuses blow when the electrical power is restored, turn off the main power switch again and re-inspect for short circuits in the home wiring or appliances. Call a professional, such as an electrician, if you are unsure about doing this.