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Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Tips

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The period after the hurricane is as dangerous as the storm itself. High winds and storm surges cause a lot of property damage during a hurricane. But more people die in the aftermath of a hurricane than during the storm itself-primarily from carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution. These tips will help you navigate many of the dangers that come up as a result of a hurricane.


Flooded Basement
Avoid electrocution by staying on high ground until you know the electricity is off. Using two chairs you can make your own dry path to the breaker box.

Tip 1: Work together

Avoid an "every man for himself" mentality. Once officials have signaled the "all clear," survey the damage to your home and reach out to your neighbors. It will be difficult to drive anywhere for supplies (if stores are even open), and you'll conserve resources by pooling them. Assess your neighbors' stocks of food, water and other resources. Eating meals collectively will reduce the amount of food that spoils (use fresh foods first) and will conserve cooking fuel.


Tip 2: Flood cleanup

Your first impulse will be to wade in and rescue your stuff. But that water might be dangerous, so put on your boots and take these precautions. Don't get fried: Any water in contact with electricity might be deadly. Even a shallow puddle could be electrified by a cord on the floor. Stay out of the water until you've turned off the power to your basement. And don't clear debris from your home and yard without surveying the area carefully. Downed or damaged power lines can send electrical currents through tree branches and metal fences. If you can't reach the circuit breaker box, call an electrician or your utility to cut the power to your home. Don't get sick: If the flooding is due to flash floods or your belongings are leaching toxins, the floodwaters may contain toxic chemicals and will almost certainly breed dangerous bacteria. Protect cuts and open sores from floodwaters and wear plastic gloves when handling your possessions.


Tip 3: Homeowner's insurance

If the damage to your home isn't covered by your homeowner's insurance, don't report it to your insurance company. The report may still go on your insurance record and look like a claim when you shop for new insurance in the future.


Tip 4: Avoid frozen water pipes

If the inside temperature continues to fall, take action to prevent burst pipes. Turn off the main water valve and drain the pipes by turning on the faucets to let out the remaining water. Use a plunger to drive water out of the toilets and drain traps.


Tip 5: Backup water supply

If your water supply shuts down, remember that your water heater holds enough drinking and cooking water to last several days. Let the water cool for a few hours before you open the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.

-Tim Hossfeld, St. Charles, MO


Tip 6: Emergency drain

If your basement is flooding, remove the basement toilet to create an instant, high-capacity floor drain. That will also let in nasty sewer gases, so don't leave the drain unplugged any longer than necessary.

-Jeramy Rath, Parker, CO


Tip 7: Bucket flush 

You don't have to live without a toilet just because the water supply is off. If you have a pool or other water source, you can flush with a bucket. Pour about 3 gallons into the bowl (not the tank) to get a fine flush.

-Dan Noar, Santa Rosa, CA


Tip 8: Don't get locked in

Garage door openers lock up when the power goes off. Make sure everyone in your home knows about the cord that releases the door from the opener. That way, they can lift the door open and get the car out in an emergency.

-Mark Hinton, Clarion, IA


Know when to replace a carbon monoxide detector
Keep your home safe from deadly carbon monoxide gas by knowing when to replace a carbon monoxide detector.

Tip 9: Carbon monoxide can build up in your home

Don't use generators, charcoal grills or propane camping stoves indoors. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Take it seriously and make sure you have working CO detectors in your home. Check for symptoms: The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble those of the flu. If the alarm sounds and anyone is experiencing headaches, dizziness, fatigue or vomiting, get everyone out of the house and call 911. Never ignore the alarm: Don't assume all is well if no one feels ill. Open your doors and windows to thoroughly ventilate the house. Turn off all potential sources of CO – your oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas range and oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater, and any vehicle or small engine. Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they're operating correctly and that there's nothing blocking the vents that let fumes out of the house.


Tip 10: Reduce damage to your home

For roof damage larger than a shingle or two, the fastest bandage is a plastic tarp. Secure a tarp over the damaged area with 2x4s or lath nailed to the roof. If possible, secure the tarp over the roof ridge; it's difficult to make the tarp waterproof at the upper end.


— Tim Davis, Digital Editor

Generators are a lifesaver. Here is some advice on choosing the best power generator. Or just turn your truck into a generator, which is not only great for emergencies but also great for tailgating and DIY projects where you don't have power.


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  • Comments
    • by posted on

      Great advice on water damage clean-up. Any advice on replacing wet drywall? I have an opportunity to move some walls around now that everything is super saturated and will have to be replaced -- I am left with the aftermath of a damaged family rec room. With time on my hands while I wait for the last of the rain to subside, I am plotting my room out for submission to the insurance company. I found this on line virtual floor planning software called www.roomsketcher.com -- super easy and high-tech, but friendly. (And free!) Thanks in advance.

    • by posted on

      We actually have an entire hub on drywall installation and repair. One thing to keep in mind you should stagger you joints when you are hanging drywall so you don't have a long seam to finish.


    • by posted on

      Please warn everyone affected with water that one of the worst things to come will be mold. If your basement flooded as ours did in 2010 in Tennessee, please bring in mediation people you can trust and any thing in the basement or home that was wet or even damp should be removed and or treated. NO, BLEACH DOES NOT KILL MOLD! do your homework and even then if you have someone in the home like me with allergies to mold, You  do not want to get the strange lung disease that I got when we pulled up the carpet in our bedroom and the entire floor was covered in mold. Now they say I have a bacteria in the lungs that shouldn't be found in humans. I suffer every day and my life span will be cut very short. Please get this message out. If you have water or condensation in your home, you will have mold.

      This is my message to anyone who needs it.

    • by posted on

      In such situations you need to contact your insurance company. They would help you completely and lower your burden to large extent.

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