Recovering After a Disaster
Recovering After a Disaster
Following any disaster, such as an earthquake, tsunami, flood or fire, there are a number of suggestions you should consider the following in order to keep you and your family safe.
- Before going inside your home or any building, walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. Do not enter the building if it appears to be dangerous.
- Wear sturdy work boots and gloves when working around or in your home or building.
- If you have any doubts about safety, have your home inspected by a professional before entering.
- If your home was damaged by fire, do not enter until authorities say it is safe.
- Leaking gas or other flammable materials may be present. Do not smoke. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they are safe to use.
- Enter the building carefully and check for damage. Check for cracks in the roof, foundation and chimneys. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately. Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors.
- Check for gas leaks, starting at the hot water heater. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor's house. If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to check the connections and turn it back on.
- Check the electrical system. If you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker, even if the power is off in your neighborhood. However, do not touch the fuse box, a circuit breaker or anything else electrical if you are wet or standing in water. Rather, leave the building and call for help.
- Try to protect your home from further damage. Open windows and doors to get air moving through. Patch holes.
- Check the water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve.
- Keep a battery-powered radio with you at all times you so you can listen for emergency updates.
- Use a battery-powered flashlight for light. Do not use oil, gas lanterns, candles or torches.
- Check appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again.
- Contact your utility supplier for inspection of propane tanks, oil tanks, etc. and for any required utility repairs.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches and gasoline. Open cabinets carefully. Be aware of objects that may fall.
- Look for valuable items such as jewelry and family heirlooms and protect them.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. The mud left behind by floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
- Check with local authorities before using any water; it could be contaminated. Wells should be pumped out and the water tested by authorities before drinking.
- Throw out fresh food that has come into contact with flood waters. Check refrigerated food for spoilage. Throw out affected cosmetics and medicines.
- Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damages. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
How the Public Can Help After a Disaster
When disaster strikes, people everywhere want to help those in need. To ensure that this compassion and generosity are put to good use, you can help in the following ways:
- Before donating any food or clothing, wait for instructions from local officials. Immediately after a disaster, response workers usually do not have the time or facilities to set up distribution channels and too often these items go to waste.
- Volunteers should go to the Emergency Social Services Volunteer Centre. The personnel there will know what is needed and are prepared to orient and train walk-in volunteers to deal with that need.
- Financial aid is an immediate need of disaster evacuees. Announcements will be made at the time of a disaster as to which organizations are accepting donations on behalf of people affected by the disaster.