Hurricane cleanup: How to stay safe when returning home


( CNN) Hurricane Florence has come and gone but the risks from power outages, damaged homes and inundating are still very present for some areas. Recovery efforts are underway in North Carolina and other areas hit by Hurricane Florence.

North Carolina

Tom Fargione, deputy federal coordinating officer for the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, is in North Carolina now, and said relief workers are focusing on stabilizing safety and security, food and water, shelter, health care, energy, communications, transportation and hazardous waste in the state.

Addressing those, he said, “is what’s going to quickly result in better care for survivors and everything we can do to immediately reduce suffering.”

Merely return home when officials have said it’s safe to do so.

Don’t walk, swim or drive through inundate waters. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person down, and one foot of moving water can sweep away a vehicle.

Keep out of the water. Flood water can contain debris, downed power line and germs.

Don’t drive around barricades. Follow posted signs and instructions.

Before entering, check for structural hazards that might make it unsafe to go in the house.

If you’re able to go inside, open doors and windows to increase ventilation. Use fans to blow air out doorways or windows.

Return to your home during daylight hours.

To communicate, text instead of calling to allow phone lines to stay open.

Walk carefully

around your home’s exterior to check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage .~ ATAGEND Don’t go inside building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain or if the building was damaged by fire.

Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that might have moved to different regions due to floodwater.

When returning to your home, be aware that inundated water may contain sewage and other hazards. Keep children and pets away from the affected area until cleanup has been completed.

Remove and discard items that cannot be rinsed and cleaned, including toys.

Clean all hard surfaces such as flooring, cement, wood and metal furniture, countertops, gadgets, sinks and other plumbing fixtures with hot water and laundry or dish cleanser.

Don’t use gas-powered generators or burners inside your home or garage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after cyclones in areas dealing with power outages.

Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can. Call your gas company from another location.

Electrical power should be shut off

until there is no risk of flame, explosions or electrocution. If you smell something burning when the electricity is turned on, even if there’s no visible smoke or flame, mmediately turn off the electricity at the main breaker .~ ATAGEND All appliances and other equipment and lighting must be dry before use.

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