There are many hazards associated with hurricanes. Steps that should be taken to minimize risk include:
Evacuate quickly when the order is given - traffic delays are more likely if you wait; many escape routes could become impassable with little warning as the surge comes ashore; driving in hurricane rain and wind is all but impossible.
Board up windows and secure loose articles - flying glass is deadly; objects such as lumber, bicycles, etc. will become airborne if left exposed and can inflict severe damage.
Keep communications lines free - especially after the storm has hit; emergency workers are hampered by over demanded phone lines.
Be careful to take certain precautions after the storm has passed. Damage to your home can have a dramatic emotional impact, and it's best to have a plan for how to reenter your home before a storm hits. Having a plan, and being aware of certain risks, will minimize the threat of harm to you or your family.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Stay tuned to local news organizations, such as a radio or television stations, for important announcements, bulletins, and instructions concerning the storm area, medical aid and other forms of assistance, such as food, water and shelter.
- Remember that you may not have immediate access to your home. Emergency rescue crews, power crews, and other personnel may be attending to special needs. Roads could be blocked, power lines could be down, and people may be trapped and in need of assistance.
- Make sure that you have current identification. You may have to pass through identification check points before being allowed access to your home/neighborhood.
- Avoid driving, as roads may be blocked. Avoid sight-seeing, or entering a storm ravaged area unnecessarily. You could be mistaken for a looter.
- Avoid downed power lines, even if they look harmless. Avoid metal fences and other metal objects near downed lines.
- DO NOT use matches in a storm ravaged area, until all gas lines area checked for leaks. (Keep flashlights and plenty of batteries at hand.)
- Avoid turning the power on at your home if there is flooding present. Have a professional conduct a thorough inspection first.
- Consider having professionals/licensed contractors inspect your home for damage and help in repairs. This includes electricians, as well as professionals to inspect gas lines, remove uprooted trees, and check plumbing. Remember that downed or damaged trees can contain power lines that can be a hazard.
- Use a camera or camcorder to record thoroughly any damage done to your home, before any repairs are attempted.
- In certain areas, the flooding rains that accompany a storm can create pest problems. Be aware of potential pest problems in your area, such as mice, rats, insects or snakes, that may have "come with the storm".
- Telephone lines will likely be busy in the area; use a phone only for emergencies.
- Flooding brings with it the risk of waterborne bacterial contaminations. You should assume that the water is not safe and use properly stored water, or boil your tap water.
These are just a few ideas to be thinking about before and after a severe storm hits. Remember to keep your radio tuned to a station issuing emergency bulletins and updates - and, of course, The Galveston.com Weather Center.
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