Smart Survival Tips for Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
Although the worst of Sandy may have passed, the period after a hurricane is as dangerous as the storm itself. High winds and storm surges cause a lot of property damage during a hurricane. But more people die in the aftermath of a hurricane than during the storm itself due to factors like carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution.
Just in time, The Family Handyman has revealed some post-hurricane safety tips to help you navigate the many dangers and keep yourself, your loved ones and your home safe.
Tip 1: Be Aware of Your Backup Water Supply: If your water supply shuts down, remember that your water heater holds enough drinking and cooking water to last several days. Let the water cool for a few hours before you open the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.
Tip 2: Don't Get Fried: Your first impulse will be to wade in and rescue your stuff. But any water in contact with electricity might be deadly; an overlooked cord on the floor, for instance, could be electrifying a shallow puddle. Stay out of the water until you've turned off the power to your basement. And don't clear debris from your home and yard without surveying the area carefully. Downed or damaged power lines can send electrical currents through tree branches and metal fences. If you can't reach the circuit breaker box, call an electrician or your utility to cut the power to your home.
Tip 3: Don't Get Sick: If the flooding is due to flash floods or your belongings are leaching toxins, the floodwaters may contain toxic chemicals and will almost certainly breed dangerous bacteria. Protect cuts and open sores from floodwaters and wear plastic gloves when handling your possessions.
Tip 4: Take Advantage of Your Emergency Drain: If your basement is flooding, remove the basement toilet to create an instant, high-capacity floor drain. That will also let in nasty sewer gases, so don't leave the drain unplugged any longer than necessary.
Tip 5: Emergency Bucket Flush: You don't have to live without a toilet just because the water supply is off. If you have a pool or other water source, you can flush with a bucket. Pour about 3 gallons into the bowl (not the tank) to get a fine flush.
Tip 6: Hint about Homeowner's Insurance: If the damage to your home isn't covered by your homeowner's insurance, don't report it to your insurance company. The report may still go on your insurance record and look like a claim when you shop for new insurance in the future.
Tip 7: Avoid Frozen Water Pipes: If the inside temperature continues to fall, take action to prevent burst pipes. Turn off the main water valve and drain the pipes by turning on the faucets to let out the remaining water. Use a plunger to drive water out of the toilets and drain traps.
Tip 8: Don't Get Locked In: Garage door openers lock up when the power goes off. Make sure everyone in your home knows about the cord that releases the door from the opener. That way, they can lift the door open and get the car out in an emergency.
Tip 9: Avoid Carbon Monoxide Build Up in Your Home: Don't use generators, charcoal grills or propane camping stoves indoors. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Take it seriously and make sure you have working CO detectors in your home.
- Check for symptoms: The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble those of the flu. If the alarm sounds and anyone is experiencing headaches, dizziness, fatigue or vomiting, get everyone out of the house and call 911.
- Never ignore the alarm: Don't assume all is well if no one feels ill. Open your doors and windows to thoroughly ventilate the house. Turn off all potential sources of CO – your oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas range and oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater, and any vehicle or small engine. Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they're operating correctly and that there's nothing blocking the vents that let fumes out of the house.
Tip 10: Reduce Damage to Your Home: For roof damage larger than a shingle or two, the fastest bandage is a plastic tarp. Secure a tarp over the damaged area with 2x4s or lath nailed to the roof. If possible, secure the tarp over the roof ridge; it's difficult to make the tarp waterproof at the upper end.
Tip 11: Work Together: Avoid an "every man for himself" mentality. Once officials have signaled the "all clear," survey the damage to your home and reach out to your neighbors. It will be difficult to drive anywhere for supplies (if stores are even open), and you'll conserve resources by pooling them. Assess your neighbors' stocks of food, water and other resources. Eating meals collectively will reduce the amount of food that spoils (use fresh foods first) and will conserve cooking fuel.
For more hurricane aftermath advice, visit: http://community.familyhandyman.com/tfh_group/b/diy_advice_blog/archive/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-aftermath-tips.aspx.