Below are a few simple guidelines to follow that will make the clean-up and salvage process safer and easier:
- Always wear protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, rubber or plastic gloves and waterproof boots or shoes.
- Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines and other exterior damage.
- Take photos of your damage before you begin clean up and save repair receipts.
- Your home may be contaminated with mold, which raises the health risk for those with asthma, allergies and breathing conditions. Refer to the Center for Disease Control for more info on mold.
- Open doors and windows so your house can air out before spending any length of time inside.
- Turn off main electrical power and water systems and don’t use gas appliances until a professional can ensure they are safe.
- Check all ceilings and floors for signs of sagging or other potentially dangerous structural damage.
- Throw out all foods, beverages and medicines exposed to flood waters or mud including canned goods and containers with food or liquid.
- Also, throw out any items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, stuffed animals, etc.).
- Beware of snakes, insects, alligators and other animals that may be on your property or in your home.
- Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
- Clean all hard surfaces (flooring, countertops, appliances, sinks, etc.) thoroughly with hot water and soap or detergent.
Before returning to your home, make sure you have the following items among your clean-up and salvage supplies: government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, etc.) and proof of address; bottled water and non-perishable foods; first aid kit; cleanser or hand cleaning gel; hygiene products and toilet paper; insect repellent and sunscreen; flashlights and extra batteries; camera or cell phone to document damage; a list of important phone numbers; and plenty of cash (ATMs may not work).
It’s also smart to create a back-up communication plan with family and friends in case you’re unable to call from your home or other areas affected by the hurricane.
If you haven’t done so already, report your damage from the hurricane to your insurance company and local emergency manager.