Preparing for a hurricane also includes what to do the days following the storm. Hurricanes can cause catastrophic and devastating damage, leaving a unique set of dangers and challenges in their aftermath.
Here are some safety tips to help protect you and your family after the storm.
Listen to Authorities
Many residents across Florida have been issued a mandatory evacuation. This isn’t just to keep you safe during the actual storm but also in the days after. Hurricanes can bring heavy rains that leave roadways damaged and underwater. In addition to flooding, hurricanes often bring about tornadoes, which can result in major destruction, making it unsafe to be out and about or even in the area.
Before you venture out or head back home post-storm, find out what your local authorities are instructing. It may not be safe to return just yet. Buildings may be destroyed, and routes may be inaccessible. Your local authorities will let you know when it is safe to go outside or to return home.
Stay Out of Floodwaters
According to the National Hurricane Center, storm surge is the number one killer during hurricane season. Storm surge is the rise in water levels from the tropical cyclone’s winds piling water toward the coast just before and during landfall. Regardless of where the standing water comes from – storm surge or the storm itself – it can be deadly during and after.
Floodwater can contain many things that can harm your health, including germs, dangerous chemicals, human and livestock waste, wild or stray animals, downed power lines, and other contaminants that can make you sick. Floodwaters can also cause cars to stall or get swept away altogether. It’s best to just stay off roadways and out of the water.
Look For Downed Power Lines
Severe storms and hurricanes often cause major power outages. This can leave power lines loose and dangling. Keep an eye out for fallen power lines that may be hanging overhead, and stay clear. Call your electrical company to report.
Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Sadly, following a storm, there is usually always a news story about a death caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. If you plan to use a generator if you lose power, make sure you set it up outside where there is proper ventilation. Other fuel-burning equipment that creates carbon monoxide includes grills and camp stoves. Never use such equipment inside your house or garage. Keep it outside and at least 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. You can’t smell carbon monoxide, so it’s a good idea to have a CO detector to be safe.
Practice Good Hygiene
Stress and anxiety levels are high during natural disasters like hurricanes. This can leave your body and immune system vulnerable. Proper and frequent handwashing is vital following a hurricane. Communicable diseases can threaten your health in the aftermath of a hurricane. Flood-tainted food and water supplies, crowded shelters, and overburdened sewage systems can contribute to the spread of various illnesses. Diseases sometimes seen after hurricanes include gastrointestinal illnesses, hepatitis A, and tetanus. If you don’t have clean water to wash your hands, be sure to boil the water and always use soap!
Be Smart About Food and Water
Don’t ever eat food that has come into contact with flood or stormwater. Contaminated food can make you sick and causes gastrointestinal issues. If you lose power and your perishable items have not been refrigerated properly, throw them away. Listen to authorities about water safety. Always use bottled or treated water to drink and even brush your teeth. If you’re not sure about something, don’t use it!