Friday, 2 November 2012

Hurricane survival – the aftermath

In this last post of our mini series on hurricane safety and survival, we're going to examine what you should do once the storm has passed you over. First and foremost, make sure you continue to listen regularly to your hand-crank or battery operated radio. This will give you the latest weather updates. This is key because you may think the worst of the storm has passed, and assume that it is safe to venture outside, when in fact, it is not.

Once you do receive news that it is safe to go outside again, be on the lookout for continuing rains, and the flooding that ensues even after the worst of the storm has passed. If you are not in your home and were staying with friends or family, or at an emergency site, don't assume it's safe to go home just because the storm has passed. Wait for an official announcement that tells you with certainty that it is, in fact, safe for you to return. If the site you return to is surrounded in water, don't attempt to enter it.

Regardless of whether you stayed in your home or elsewhere as the storm was passing, as soon as it is safe for you to move around the inside and outside of your home, start taking pictures of damage—both to your property, and to its contents. You're going to need these for insurance claims. It's worth noting here again that not all damage caused by hurricanes will necessarily be covered by your basic home insurance plan. This is why it is critical for you, prior to disaster, to meet with your insurance provider and discuss options that include specific coverage, like hurricane insurance, and contents insurance.

In terms of food and drink, check your fridge for spoiled food, and discard what has gone bad. If you are uncertain about a specific item, it's better to play it safe and discard it. You should assume that tap water is unsafe for consumption (either drinking or cooking) until you know for certain that it is not contaminated.

If you can avoid driving, do. If you notice damaged power lines and are able, notify authorities so that they can repair them quickly. Remember to protect yourself as you are surveying and cleaning in and around your property with layers of clothing that will shield you from debris and contamination.