So finally the storm has passed — but that doesn’t mean everything is safe at your home or on the path back to your home. Whether you evacuated or rode out the storm at home, it’s important to stay alert to ongoing threats. Downed electrical wires, gas leaks, weakened trees, obstacles in roadways, and flooding are just a few of the dangers to watch out for in the aftermath of the storm.
Returning Home After Evacuating
- Don’t go back to your home until evacuation orders have been lifted and officials indicate it is safe to return.
- Drive carefully. Be on the lookout for downed trees and power lines, and be extra mindful that other drivers may be impatient or otherwise distracted.
- Stay on designated evacuation routes until officials give the all-clear for other roads.
- Avoid driving into large puddles or other standing water — you don’t know what is beneath the surface, or when it may lead you into a pond, river, or canal you can’t see until it’s too late.
Assess the Damage
- If returning to your home from an evacuation, examine the exterior to assess potential damage, as this may alert you to potential problems inside.
- If you detect signs of danger — such as the smell of gas, fire damage, live electric wires touching the house, etc. — leave quickly and immediately notify emergency services.
- Carefully inspect your home and yard. If possible, have another trusted adult keep an eye out for dangers in the yard (snakes, downed power lines, sharp objects, etc.) while you check for damage.
- Once inside, look for any damage to the interior. Leave immediately and find somewhere else to stay if you smell gas, detect fire damage, or see standing water from flooding that has not yet receded.
- Be cautious when attempting any temporary repairs yourself.
- Take pictures of any damage to your home or vehicle.
Leaving Your House if You Rode Out the Storm at Home
- Stay inside until officials say the storm has passed completely and it is safe to be outside.
- Contact family and friends to let them know you are safe (if you can’t reach anyone, contact the American Red Cross to see if they can help locate others).
- Move about outside with caution. Examine the exterior to assess potential damage, and avoid hazards outside the home.
- Avoid using tap water for drinking or cooking until officials say it is safe for consumption.