When it comes to massive storms like Hurricane Sandy, many dangers remain long after the weather event has dissipated. Some areas far from the front lines of the devastation won't make headlines but will continue to feel the storm's effects for some time to come. Be aware of potential hazards and consider these tips adapted from FEMA's Ready.gov website for post-hurricane safety.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended. Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- 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. The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family members. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe. If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs, text SHELTER+ your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area.
- For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Visit the FEMA site to apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources.
- Drive only if necessary, and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Stay away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- If you had to evacuate or even shelter in place, perform an inspection by walking carefully around the outside your home and checking for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it is not contaminated.
- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can build up quickly in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
Visit Ready.gov to learn more about disaster preparation techniques and ways to stay safe in the event of emergency.