What to Expect During the Storm
After the Storm
- Protect Yourself. If you waited out the storm at home, take stock of the area. Is there flooding, debris or structural damage? If there is severe damage to the home, leave immediately and contact local officials.
- Check for gas leaks. Smell and listen carefully for a leaky gas connection. If you think there may be a gas leak, leave immediately and contact a professional to check the line.
- Report downed power lines. When assessing the damage to the home and yard, see if there are any downed power lines on the street. Avoid any downed lines, even if they look harmless, and report them to the utility company and local police and fire departments.
- Check on neighbors. Check on neighbors who stayed, as well as the homes of neighbors who left.
- Report loses. Take photos of the residence, yard and street. Make a list of any missing or damaged property and call your insurance agent.
- Wear protective gear while cleaning. Wear work boots, gloves, protective eye wear while cleaning up debris. Consider contacting contractors to clean up large debris. The sooner clean up starts and the home dries, the less mold damage there may be.
- Keep receipts. Your insurance, local community and government could have programs to reimburse efforts to clean and rebuild property, as well as displacement from the home while the cleanup efforts take place.
If the power is out
- Power outages are common after a severe storm like a hurricane or tropical storm.
- Unplug all major appliances before turning the electricity back on to minimize possible surge damage.
- If the home flooded, have a professional electrician check it before turning the electricity back on. Any lingering water can severely damage the home and possibly electrocute someone.
How to Operate a Gas-powered Portable Generator
If you own a portable generator, there will be access to electricity even if the power is out. However, it’s important to be aware of the area before setting up. Do not set up if:
- The ground is saturated with water.
- It’s still raining.
- There are strong gusts of wind.
- There is a number of debris covering the ground
If the location is clear of the above, follow the instructions to start your generator.
Operating a portable generator at a safe distance from the home will help avoid the deadly threat of carbon monoxide emissions as well as damage to the generator caused by overheating. Run a 25-foot power cord straight out from the home's power inlet box to ensure there is enough clearance between the home and portable power source. Placing the generator at the other end of the power cord and away from other walls, barriers or objects should help ensure safe operation.
- Run all portable generators outside.
- Keep portables away from open windows and open garages.
- Keep a carbon monoxide detector in the home.
- Have extra gas on hand and store in well-ventilated area.
If someone experiences symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (i.e. headaches, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath and fatigue), leave the area right away and find fresh air.
Home Standby Generator
A home generator should have turned on automatically if power is lost. If there was flooding approaching the home, it should have been disconnected. After the storm review where the flooding actually occurred, and if the home was not affected, reconnect the home standby generator. If there was flooding during the storm, do not turn on the home standby generator until a professional has inspected it. Due to lingering water or water damage to the generator or home, it may cause electrocution.
If You Left
- Wait for the okay to return. If the storm passed and local officials have not given the okay to return, this is likely due to blocked roadways or other debris that makes it unsafe for travel. Do not return until the officials have announced it. Returning to unauthorized locations may also cause you to be mistaken for a looter.
- Do not drive through flooded roads. Even a few inches of strong currents can float a car off the road.
- Follow the “After the Storm” Checklist. When returning from evacuation, check the house, record what happened, contact your insurance company and begin clean up.