Although Hurricane Ian did not make a direct hit, as was feared, it’s always good to have some pointers on how to respond if your area suffers substantial harm from a natural disaster.
Here are some pointers we have compiled that we hope will be helpful to our readers, in case this type of information is ever needed.
After the storm, what hazards should I watch for?
- Keep an eye out for fallen power lines.
- Do not walk through standing water. It could be electrically charged. It also could contain harmful contaminants. It could have a strong undercurrent. It also may be deeper than it looks.
- Keep an eye out for wild animals that may have been driven out into the open.
What should I do if I smell natural gas?
If you detect an odor that smells like rotten eggs, it could signal there is a gas leak. Natural gas has no odor, but gas companies add a harmless chemical to make it smell like rotten eggs.
If you detect that smell, do not light matches, turn on light switches or use the telephone — any of those actions could ignite the gas and cause an explosion.
Go to a phone that is away from the odor and immediately call your local gas company. If the scent is strong, leave the property before making your call. Be sure to tell others to leave and warn others not to enter the building.
Did you need to evacuate? If so, when re-entering your home:
- Look out for standing water. If you do, turn off the main power switch. Don’t cross standing water to access the switch. Call an electrician, instead, to check out your home’s electrical system before turning the power back on. Also do not use electric tools or appliances while standing in water.
- If the house has been closed up for several days, enter briefly to open doors and windows to let the house air out for a while (at least 30 minutes) before you go in to stay for any length of time.
- If your home has been flooded and has been closed up for several days, assume your home has mold. Hire professionals to dry out your house, or get guidance on how to do it yourself.
Did your property sustain damage?
Call your insurance agent. Take photos to document damage. Make repairs to prevent additional damage. Keep receipts of the supplies you used to make repairs.
If you have or had to leave your home to stay elsewhere keep receipts for hotels and meals. Insurance policies often cover “loss of use” expenses.
Is your car damaged?
Check with your auto insurance to see if it is covered.
Car flooded? If the car has been flooded, avoid turning it on right away. If there’s water in the engine it can cause more damage. Unfortunately, flood waters can do serious damage to a car, especially to the electrical system. Repairs can become so expensive they can outstrip the value of the car.
Are you using a generator?
If you are using a generator do not use it in the house and don’t plug it into your home’s electrical system. Be sure the generator is kept outdoors and is well-ventilated. Fumes from generators can be deadly.
If power’s out, how can I preserve my food?
Open the refrigerator only when necessary and close it quickly. Keep your refrigerated foods cold longer by move food from your refrigerator into coolers.
Tightly pack the coolers with ice to keep food from spoiling. Prioritize foods you’re trying to save.
If you’ve lost power, be careful about eating food that may have spoiled.
Once your perishable food reaches room temperature, many experts say it’s safe for only two hours. Don’t assume it’s safe simply because it looks and smells OK.
Also, if you cook food and it has a questionable odor, throw it out.
What should I do if I see a fallen power line?
Report it to the local utility company.
Use care not to touch anything that’s in contact with the power line. Be especially careful around standing water that may be carrying an electrical charge.
Do you need repairs? Avoid unlicensed, fly-by-night operators
If you have roof damage, need tree trimming or removal or require another type of repair, be sure to secure bids for the work and require proof that the contractor is licensed and insured.
Get a written contract detailing the work to be performed, the completion date, the types of materials to be used, warranties for the work, the start and finish dates, and who is responsible for cleanup and trash removal. Do not pay upfront for the work, although partial payments sometimes are a reasonable request. Be sure to check references.
Do you need more help?
Check with your local government and local elected officials. Often they have staff who are familiar with community resources and can find the help you need.
Don’t forget to confer with friends and family who also may know who can provide the services you need or where you can go to file complaints.
Published October 05, 2022