Hopefully, the worst you’ll see is some heavy rain, but it’s possible your hurricane experience could be life-changing. When you are invited to return from evacuation or are told it’s safe to leave your home, you might find some unexpected carnage.
Your first goal will be to make sure that your loved ones are safe, of course. Call your close contacts on your list to confirm they are safe, but save the commiserating for later. Next up is cleaning up, assessing the damage, and rebuilding.
Hurricanes can cause major floods, and their powerful winds can tear down power lines, uproot trees, and scatter debris for miles. As you return home, be mindful of these potential hazards. Do not drive into any flooded roadway; it may be deeper than you expect and cause you to become trapped, damage your vehicle, or even carry you away in a current. Do not wade through any amount of flood water; it can hide hazards that might injure you or and is very likely contaminated. (The rash or ring worm you receive as a reward will not be worth it.)
If you are not dealing with significant problems, keep in mind that others nearby may be awaiting rescue or urgent assistance. Unless it’s an emergency, try to stay off the roads after the hurricane. Likewise, try to resist the urge to make longer or unnecessary calls as the phone network might be overburdened by the disaster as people work to locate missing loved ones and resolve problems.
In Your Home
If your home has visible damage or doesn’t look structurally sound, don’t go inside. If it does look safe, proceed with caution, and do not allow your children to return home until you have inspected it fully for damage and hazards. Hurricanes can displace wildlife, and some frightened animals may seek shelter on your property. So keep an eye out for Bambi when you return home.
Water mains might have been damaged during the hurricane, so don’t drink tap water unless you’ve boiled it or authorities have already announced that it’s safe. You might need to rely on your emergency water supply for a few days.
Be vigilant when it comes to inspecting your house for water damage. Any hidden water damage (from flooding or broken mains/pipes) can also rot wood or encourage mold growth. Mold can be dangerous–even fatal–to inhale, especially for those with a respiratory condition. After a hurricane, you should be able to receive an inspection from a FEMA or other government representatives if you need assistance assessing or repairing your home.
Also be aware that your home’s electrical grid could be compromised. If water seeped into your circuit breaker, it could be seriously damaged. Some appliances might have shorts. Be safe with electricity and follow instructions from the pros.
It may take a while to assess your entire property, but systematically assess each portion of your home to make sure you can quickly and safely rebuild or repair. Take it bit by bit and you’ll be ready to thrive!