9/2/2021 - Stay Safe from Post Storm Hazards
Stay safe from post-storm hazards
- Obey ALL directions from local Emergency Management officials and encourage others to do so.
- Put your health and safety first. Be careful in areas with storm damage or flooding. If you evacuated, return only when officials say it is safe to do so. Areas without power may experience heat advisories, which can lead to illness or a threat to life.
- Use a generator safely. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open.
- Keep generators outside and far away from your home. Windows, doors and vents could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Read both the label on your generator and the owner's manual and follow the instructions.
- If your home has flood water inside or around it, don’t walk or wade in it. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Never attempt to turn off power or operate circuit breakers while standing in water.
- Stay out of floodwater. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain hazards such as human and animal waste, dangerous debris, contaminates that can lead to illness, or wild or stray animals.
- Be careful when cleaning up. Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves and sturdy thick-soled shoes. Do not try to remove heavy debris by yourself. Use an appropriate mask if cleaning mold or other debris. People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression disorders should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
- Avoid downed power or utility lines. They may be live with deadly voltage. Stay far away and report them immediately to your power company.
- Stay put. Stay off the roads. Emergency workers may be assisting people in flooded areas or cleaning up debris. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way. If you evacuated, do not return home until local officials say it is safe.
- Don’t drive through flood waters. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas at bridges and at highway dips. As little as 6 inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Check on friends and family. If you are able, please check on your neighbors, friends, and family because some may need more help than others.
Stay safe during power outages
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. A grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices should never be used inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. These should only be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.
- Use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns for emergency lighting. NEVER use candles during a blackout or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
- Power outages can impact the safety of food in your refrigerator and freezer.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers with ice if necessary.
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to a temperature of 40° Fahrenheit (4° Celsius) or higher for two hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, heat-resistant bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses can start growing.
- If you are in New Jersey you may dial 2-1-1 from any phone, day or night, to be connected with a person who cares and knows about community resources; or text your zip code to 898-211 and they will respond by sending you information about resources in your community.
- Be patient. Recovery will take many months or more. Individuals who experienced damage and power loss should use extreme caution during the recovery phase. If you have insurance, start documenting your damage and reporting your loss immediately to your agent.
- Contact your Insurance Company: Contact both your flood insurance and homeowners’ insurance companies as soon as possible after the flood. Get complete and current copies of any policies you may have on your home, auto and other property. Locate the “Declarations Page” for each one and review the coverages and limitations. Flood insurance policies have different rules than home policies. If a home or flood adjuster says damage isn't covered, get an independent professional opinion before giving up on collecting insurance benefits for repairs.
- Take Pictures: Before you remove any water or make any repairs, fully document all damage for your insurer by taking photos or video. Digital versions are best so they can be easily store and copied. f you clean, dry and/or make repairs prior to photographing the damage, you may decrease the amount of your flood insurance recovery.
- Complete and Inventory: Focus on completely inventorying and valuing all damage and costs to repair/clean and replace property, regardless of your insurance situation. What damage did the flood do to your home and possessions? When listing and describing damage, make a chart including: (1) item, (2) location of item at time of loss, (3) condition and age of item, (4) actual cash value and replacement cost of item.
- Dry out and arrange for temporary repairs ASAP to avoid mold growth and additional damage: After contacting your flood and homeowners insurance companies, use a sump pump, available from most hardware or home supply stores, or/and a wet vacuum to remove water from your home.
- Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, so remove wet contents, including carpeting and bedding, as soon as possible. If an item has been wet for less than 48 hours, it may be salvageable. However, you'll need to decide whether it holds enough monetary or sentimental value to try to do so. Notify your insurance company before removing and disposing of any large or high value items. Photograph ALL flood-soaked items.
- Keep good records, a journal and receipts: If there is repair or remediation work completed prior to an adjuster coming to your home, keep a copy of the invoices and receipts for work which has already been performed and materials purchased. Keep a diary of conversations and all correspondence with insurance, repair, government and other professionals
- Make sure any contractor is qualified, licensed, insured to perform the scope of services they are presenting. Check references before signing any contracts for services or hiring vendors.
- Be extra cautious about contractors and vendors that show up at your front door uninvited. Most reputable companies will not go door-to-door seeking business.
- Insist on detailed proposals and estimates, and contracts with clear and reasonable payment schedules.
- Try to make all payments with a check or credit card. In the event you make any payments in cash make sure the contractor provides a signed receipt stating the amount paid, and what services that payment covers.
- If you have flood insurance, report your loss immediately to your insurance agent or carrier. Be sure to ask them about advance payments. If you need help finding your insurance agent or carrier, call the National Flood Insurance Program at 877-336-2627.If you have flood insurance, report your loss immediately to your insurance agent or carrier. Be sure to ask them about advance payments. If you need help finding your insurance agent or carrier, call the National Flood Insurance Program at 877-336-2627.
- If you are able to safely return to your home, before you discard anything take as many photos and videos as possible of your flood damaged home and personal property as possible, including flood water lines on the outside of the structure. For appliances and electronics, take a photograph of the make, model and serial number.
- Learn more about starting your recovery with the National Flood Insurance Program at FEMA.gov.
- The HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration activated its Disaster Distress helpline. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone or text at 1-800-985-5990 for disaster survivors in Mississippi and Louisiana experiencing emotional distress.
- Spanish-speakers can call or text the hotline and press “2” for bilingual support. Callers can also connect with counselors in over 100 other languages via 3rd-party interpretation services by indicating their preferred language to the responding counselor, who will connect to a live interpreter.
- Deaf or hard of hearing American Sign Language users can contact the DDH through a direct videophone option via any videophone-enabled device and dialing 1-800-985-5990, or by selecting the “ASL Now” option on the DDH website here.
How can I help survivors and communities?
- Be patient. Recovery will take many months or more. People can help by donating to or volunteering with the voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already areas impacted by Ida supporting survivors. Learn how to best help those in need.
- Do not self-deploy. Seeing images of disaster may compel you to head to the impacted area. Until a need has been identified and the community affected by Hurricane Ida has requested support, volunteers should not enter the area.
- Cash is the best donation. When people support voluntary organizations with financial contributions, it helps ensure a steady flow of important services to the people in need after a disaster. To find a reputable organization, visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in a Disaster Hurricane Ida page.
- Do not send or bring unsolicited donations. In the early stages of the response phase, unsolicited donations create storage and sorting challenges when focus is needed on response and recovery.