Survival Skills: What to Do After The Disaster

You never know what you are going to find as you clean up after a storm, especially after a significant storm like Hurricane Sandy.

If your home, business, or other property became damaged, or was simply strewn with trash, limbs, and debris, you may have a big clean up job ahead of you.

How can you clean up a disaster's aftermath safely?

Trees can be bent and under tension, therefore dangerous to cut. Flood waters can harbor bacteria and pathogens, as well as sharp wreckage and trash that could cut you as you wade through. Just because the weather has cleared, doesn't mean you are out of harm's way.

You'll want to gear up with protective items like gloves and safety glasses before you get to work, and then consider these points:

1. Know where your gas, water, and electrical shut-offs are before disaster strikes.

2. If your house has sustained damage, and you have gas heat or appliances, sniff for gas leaks inside your home and outside, too.

3. If the power is out as a result of the calamity, turn off your main breaker and all of the smaller breakers until power is restored to your area.

4. If you did shut off these utilities during or after the storm, you can turn the water and power back on yourself. Let the gas company know about your gas shut-off, and let them send someone to turn the gas back on. Your pilot lights will be out, and other problems can arise from the gas being shut off.

5. Have someone there with you as you do dangerous things, like climb on the roof and cut trees that may be under tension. This way you have someone to go for help if you get hurt.

6. After a hurricane or similar disaster, if you notice damage to your building's foundation, walls or roof, have someone inspect your home who is qualified to inspect for structural damage.

7. Avoid any down power lines. Just because the power is out doesn't mean the area is safe.

8. Stay out of the water! If you can avoid it, don't wade through any storm waters. If you must go in, put your waders on first.

Are you cleaning up after Sandy? Let us know how it's going in the comments.