Tips for cleaning up after a Storm


Here are some tips from the Red Cross and the Va. Dept. of Health for cleaning up and repairing your home:

[Norfolk Storm Damage Map]

--Practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands, is key to staying healthy in any situation. 

--Use extreme caution in entering a building. Damage may have occurred where you least expect it. 

--Wear sturdy shoes. Cut feet is a very common injury following a disaster. 

--Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns for exploring buildings until you know it's safe. 

--Never enter flooded areas or touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet, unless you are certain the power is off.
  Never touch a downed power line. If clearing or other work must be performed near a downed power line, contact your utility company. 
  Use extreme caution when moving ladders and other equipment near overhead power lines. 

--Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage. 

--Look for fire hazards such as broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces and appliances.
  Flammable liquids and other materials may have been carried downstream. 

--If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building.
  Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home.
  If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional. 

--Turn off the electricity at the main breaker of the fuse box, even if the power is off in your community.
  This will allow you to decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.
  This should be done especially if you find frayed or broken wires, or if you smell burning insulation. 

--Check for sewage and waterline damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber.
  If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
  You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heaters or by melting ice cubes. 

--Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come into buildings with the flood waters.
  Use a stick to poke through debris. Flood waters flush snakes and many animals out of their homes. 

--Watch for loose plaster, drywall, and ceilings that could fall. 

--Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims. 

--Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters. Some canned foods may be salvageable.
  If the cans are dented or damaged, throw them away. Food contaminated by flood waters can cause severe infections. 

--If water is of questionable purity, boil or add bleach, and distill drinking water before using.
  Wells inundated by flood waters should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking.
  If in doubt, call your local public health authority.
  Ill health effects often occur when people drink water contaminated with bacteria and germs. 

--Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage.
  If the water is pumped completely in a short period of time, pressure from water-saturated soil on the
 outside could cause basement walls to collapse. 

--Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible.
  Damaged sewage systems are health hazards. 
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