Even though the damaging winds and pounding rains of a hurricane may have passed, there is still danger to affected residents. If you have been forced to evacuate your home, before returning home you should check with the local authorities to find out if your neighborhood is safe to return to. There may be roads closed to to standing water, street damage or fallen power lines in and around the area. Hurricane damages can create billions of dollars worth of damages from high winds, flooding and debris.

Try to plan your return home so that it occurs during the day time so you will not have to use electricity. Make sure everyone in your family is accounted for and safe and be sure to let friends and family know that you are planning on returning home. Under no circumstances should you attempt to drive your vehicle through standing water. There may be large holes in the road or heavy currents which could sweep you and your car away. If your car should happen to stall and not start again, stay inside and wait for help to arrive.

Once you have arrived home be very aware and alert for downed power lines. If you happen to smell the odor of gas, leave the premises immediately and call the gas company. Flood waters are notorious for shifting gas supply lines and for breaking seals. Do not be tempted to turn on the lights or to smoke a cigarette while you wait for help. Stay outside and away from your home so you do not breathe in harmful fumes.

Once it is deemed safe to go inside your house, wear protective clothing such as boots, gloves and a hard hat. If your refrigerator, washer, dryer or stove have been wet, have those appliances checked out by a certified electrician to make sure that they are OK to use again. You can set them up on blocks if you find them standing in water. If you have a sump pump on hand, put it to work as soon as possible so that any standing water is removed. Open windows and doors to allow the affected areas to dry. If the water damage was extensive, be sure to call in the help of a local flood remediation company so that the area can be properly cleaned and dried.

Returning home to find your home damaged by a hurricane is both heartbreaking and stressful. However, if you keep a clear head and use a bit of common sense and good judgment you will be better able to cope with the disaster so that your life can return to normal as quickly as humanly possible.

Updated: July 6, 2010 — 3:43 pm
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