(Survival manual/1. Disaster/Hurricane survival)
A hurricane is a massive weather phenomenon, usually about 300 miles in diameter. Even when the center of a hurricane is more than 300 miles away, surrounding areas are already feeling its effects, such as winds in excess of 39 miles per hour and long bands of severe storms and tornadoes. These conditions worsen dramatically as the hurricane grows near. In other words, once the storm is close enough to see, you’re already in it.
A . What Is A Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm Or A Hurricane?
• Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained wind speed is 38 mph or less. Depressions have a closed circulation.
• Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained wind speed ranges from 39 mph to 73 mph. The convection in tropical storms is usually more concentrated near the center with outer rainfall organizing into distinct bands.
• Hurricane: When winds in a tropical cyclone equal or exceed 74 mph it is called a hurricane. Hurricanes are further designated by categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Hurricanes in categories 3, 4, 5 are known as Major Hurricanes or Intense Hurricanes.
• The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale: The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane’s present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.
_1. Category One Hurricane: Winds 74-95 mph. Barometric Pressure Above 980 mb (Above 28.94 in) Storm surge generally 4-5 ft above normal. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.
_2. Category Two Hurricane: Winds 96-110 mph. Barometric Pressure 965-980 mb (28.50-28.94 in) Storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.
_3. Category Three Hurricane:Winds 111-130 mph. Barometric Pressure 945-965 mb (27.91-28.50 in) Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required.
_4. Category Four Hurricane: Winds 131-155 mph. Barometric Pressure 920-945 mb (27.17-27.91 in) Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km).
_5. Category Five Hurricane:Winds greater than 155 mph. Barometric Pressure Below 920 mb (Below 27.17 in) Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes.
Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles of the shoreline may be required.
Note: Severe Wind: The highest winds ever recorded in the world (by fixed equipment) – 231 Mph were recorded on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire on April 12, 1934.
There are no other storms like hurricanes, on Earth. Views of hurricanes from satellites located thousands of miles above the Earth show how these powerful, tightly coiled weather systems are unique. Each year, on average, 10 tropical storms (of which six become hurricanes) develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico. Many of these storms remain over the ocean. However, an average of five hurricanes strike the United States coastline every three years. Of these five, two will be major hurricanes, which are storms of category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which corresponds to hurricanes with winds at or above 111 miles per hour.
Timely warnings have greatly diminished hurricane fatalities in the United States. In spite of this, property damage continues to mount. There is little we can do about the hurricanes themselves. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Tropical Prediction Center and National Weather Service (NWS) field offices team up with other federal, state, and local agencies; rescue and relief organizations; the private sector; and the news media in a huge warning and preparedness effort.
What Are Hurricanes, and What Causes Them?
• Hurricanes and tropical storms are cyclones with tropical origins (tropical cyclones). When the winds of a tropical storm (winds 39 to 73 miles per hour) reach a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more, it is called a hurricane. Hurricane winds blow in a large spiral around a relatively calm center known as the “eye.” The “eye” is generally 20 to 30 miles wide, and the storm may have a diameter of 400 miles across. As a hurricane approaches, the skies will begin to darken and winds will grow in strength. A hurricane can bring torrential rains, high winds, and storm surge as it nears land. A single hurricane can last more than two weeks over open waters and can run a path across the entire length of the eastern seaboard.
• More dangerous than the high winds of a hurricane is the storm surge – a dome of ocean water that can be 20 feet high at its peak and 50 to 100 miles wide. The surge can devastate coastal communities as it sweeps ashore. In recent years, the fatalities associated with storm surge have been greatly reduced as a result of better warning and preparedness within coastal communities.
• Most deaths due to tropical cyclones are flood-related. Inland flooding is a common occurrence with hurricanes and tropical storms. Torrential rains from decaying hurricanes and tropical storms can produce extensive urban and river flooding. Winds from these storms located offshore can drive ocean water up the mouth of rivers, compounding the severity of inland flooding. Inland streams and rivers can flood and trigger landslides. Mudslides can occur in mountainous regions. In addition, hurricanes can spawn tornadoes, which add to the destructiveness of the storm.
C. How to Protect Your Property
• Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a storm. A list will help you remember anything that can be broken or picked up by strong winds. Hurricane winds, often in excess of 100 miles per hour, can turn unanchored items into deadly missiles, causing damage or injury when they hit.
• Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so that wind can blow through. Hurricane winds frequently break weak limbs and hurl them at great speed, causing great damage when they hit property. Debris collection services may not be operating just before a storm, so it is best to do this well in advance of approaching storms.
• Remove any debris or loose items in your yard. Hurricane winds can pick up anything unsecured, creating damage to property when the debris hits.
• Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts. Hurricanes often bring long periods of heavy rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
• Install permanent hurricane shutters. Hurricane shutters provide the best protection for your windows and doors. Taping windows could take critical time from more effective preparedness measures. All tape does is help prevent glass from broken windows from scattering all over inside. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking. Cover the outside of windows with shutters or plywood.
• If you do not have permanent hurricane shutters, install anchors for plywood (marine plywood is best) and predrill holes in precut half-inch outdoor plywood boards so that you can cover the windows of your home quickly. Mark which board fits which window.
Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking, so taping windows is not recommended.
Most homes destroyed during recent hurricanes had no window protection. When wind enters a home through broken windows, the pressure builds against the walls and can lift roofs, followed by collapsing walls.
• Install protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Glass doors are as vulnerable as windows to breakage by wind-driven objects.
• Well ahead of time, buy any other items needed to board up windows and protect your home. When a hurricane threatens, supplies are quickly sold out at many stores. Stock may not be replenished until after the storm.
• Strengthen garage doors. Many houses are destroyed by hurricane winds that enter through damaged garage doors, lifting roofs, and destroying the remainder of the house.
• Have an engineer check your home and advise about ways to make it more resistant to hurricane winds. There are a variety of ways to protect your home. Professionals can advise you of engineering requirements, building permits or requirements of local planning and zoning departments to provide the most effective protection.
• Elevate coastal homes. Raising houses to a certain height will make them more resistant to hurricane-driven waters. There may be many local codes affecting how and where homes can be elevated. Meet
with your emergency manager or planning and zoning official for a description of the process to have your home elevated. There may also be community funds available for such measures.
• If you live in a flood plain or are prone to flooding, also follow flood preparedness precautions. Hurricanes can bring great amounts of rain and frequently cause floods. Some hurricanes have dropped more than 10 inches of rain in just a few hours.
1. What to Do During a Hurricane WATCH
Continue listening regularly to a NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or television stations for updated information. Hurricanes can change direction, intensity, and speed very suddenly. What was a minor threat several hours ago can quickly escalate to a major threat.
√ Listen to the advice of local officials, and evacuate if they tell you to do so. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Leaving an area that may be affected will help keep your family safe.
Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community. Following the advice of local authorities is your safest protection. Local officials may close down certain roads, especially near the coast, when the outer effects of increasing wind and rain from a hurricane reach the coast.
√ Prepare your property for high winds. Hurricane winds can blow large, heavy objects and send them crashing into homes. Anything not secured may become a deadly or damaging projectile.
√ Bring lawn furniture inside, as well as outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, or anything else that can be picked up by the wind.
√ Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so that wind can blow through.
√ Secure building by closing and boarding up each window of your home. Remove outside antennas.
√ Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer.
√ Fill your car’s gas tank. If advised to evacuate, you may have to travel long distances or be caught in traffic, idling for long periods of time. Gas stations along the route may be closed.
√ Stock up on prescription medications. Stores and pharmacies may be closed after the storm.
√ Recheck manufactured home tie-downs. Manufactured homes may not be as affected by strong winds if they are tied down according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Properly tied down homes are more likely to stay fixed to their foundations.
√ Check your ’72 Hour Emergency Kit’ (see post: Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/72 Hour Emergency Kit) Some supplies may need to be replaced or restocked.
√ Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest setting. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly. Keeping the coldest air in will help perishables last much longer in the event of a power failure.
√ Store valuables and personal papers in a safe deposit box in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home. Hurricanes leave much water damage inside homes. Historically, it is shown that protecting valuables in this manner will provide the best security.
√ Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities. Authorities may ask you to turn off water or electric utilities to prevent damage to your home or within the community. Most of the time they will tell you to leave the gas on because a professional is required to turn your gas back on, and it may be several weeks before you receive service.
√ Turn off propane tanks. Propane tanks may be damaged or dislodged by strong winds or water. Turning them off reduces the fire potential if they are damaged by the storm.
√ Unplug small appliances. Small appliances may be affected by electrical power surges that may occur as the storm approaches. Unplugging them reduces potential damage.
√ Review evacuation plan. Make sure your planned route is the same as the currently recommended route. Sometimes roads may be closed or blocked, requiring a different route.
√ Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. When you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, if you can do so safely, get out of your vehicle and climb to higher ground. Most hurricane-related deaths are caused by floods, and most flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water. The depth of water is not always obvious. The roadbed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped. Rapidly rising water may stall the engine, engulf the vehicle and its occupants, and sweep them away. Two feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
2. What to Do During a Hurricane WARNING
√ Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio, or portable, battery – powered radio or television for updated information and official instructions. Hurricanes can change direction, intensity, and speed
very suddenly. Continue listening for local information.
√ If officials announce a hurricane warning, they may ask you to leave your home as soon as possible to be safe. Take your Disaster Supplies Kit and go to a shelter or your family contact’s home. Call your check-in contact so someone will know where you are
Local officials advise leaving only if they truly believe your location is in danger. It is important to follow their instructions as soon as possible. Roads may become blocked and the storm can worsen, preventing safe escape. Having your disaster supplies will make you more comfortable while you are away from home.
√ If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, on the first floor away from windows, skylights and glass doors, even if they are covered. Stay on the floor least likely to be affected by strong winds and flood waters. A small interior room without windows on the first floor is usually the safest place. Have as many walls between you and the outside winds as possible. Sometimes strong winds and projectiles may tear hurricane shutters off, so stay away from windows even if they are covered. Lie on the floor under a table or other sturdy object. Being under a sturdy object will offer greater protection from falling objects.
√ Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors. Closed doors will help prevent damaging hurricane winds from entering additional rooms.
√ Have a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid using open flames (candles and kerosene lamps) as a source of light. Flashlights provide the safest emergency lighting source. Between 1984 and 1998, candle-related deaths from home fires following hurricanes were three times greater than the number of deaths related to the direct impact of the hurricane. Kerosene lamps require a great deal of ventilation and are not designed for indoor use.
√ Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, sinks, plastic bottles, and cooking utensils. Public water supplies and wells may become contaminated, or electric pumps may be inoperative if power is lost. Survivors of community-wide disasters have said the individual’s greatest need following the disaster is water.
√ If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce the power “surge” when electricity is restored.
When electricity is restored, the surge from many major appliances starting at the same time may cause damage or destroy the appliances. Turning off or unplugging major appliances will allow you to decide when it is best to turn them back on.
√ If in a mobile home, check tie-downs and evacuate immediately. Historically, manufactured homes suffer the greatest amount of damage during hurricanes. Prior to 1994, most manufactured homes were not designed to withstand even moderate winds.
√ Be aware that the calm “eye” is deceptive; the storm is not over. The worst part of the storm will happen once the eye passes over and the winds blow from the opposite direction. Trees, shrubs, buildings, and other objects damaged by the first winds can be broken or destroyed by the second winds. The opposing winds begin suddenly, and have surprised and injured many people who ventured out during the eye.
√ Watch out for flooding. Hurricanes and tropical storms often drop large amounts of rainfall and cause severe flooding, even when they are weakening or are no longer a named storm. “Weak” tropical storms are just as capable of producing heavy rainfall and flooding as major hurricanes.
√ Be alert for tornadoes. Tornadoes can happen during and after a hurricane passes over. Remain indoors on a lower level, in the center of your home, in a closet or bathroom without windows. Going below ground, such as to a basement or storm cellar, increases your risk from flood.
3. What to Do if Evacuation Is Necessary
√ Leave as soon as possible (if possible, in daylight). Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Roads and bridges frequently become crowded and traffic moves slow. Evacuation will probably take longer than expected. Give yourself plenty of time.
√ Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve. This will reduce potential damage to your appliances (from power surges) and to your home.
√ Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going. Relatives and friends will be concerned about your safety. Letting someone know your travel plans will help relieve their fear and anxiety.
√ If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone or area prone to flooding, move furniture to a higher floor. Moving valuable furnishings helps reduce potential damage.
√ Bring preassembled emergency supplies and warm protective clothing. People frequently arrive at shelters or hotels with nothing. Having these items will make you more comfortable in other
√ While shelters provide a safe place to stay and food, specialty items for infants and individuals on restricted diets may not be available. It may take several days until permission is given by local authorities to re-enter an evacuated area. Bring these items with you to a shelter:
• First aid kit, manual, and prescription medications.
• Baby food and diapers.
• Cards, games, books.
• Battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
• Flashlight (one per person) and extra batteries.
• Blankets or sleeping bags.
• Valuable papers (copies of insurance papers, passports, and other essential documents).
• Lock up your home and leave. There may be individuals evacuating after you, or returning before you. Police may be busy with hurricane-related emergencies and not able to patrol neighborhoods as usual. Lock your property as you normally would when leaving home.
• Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for information and instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community, or roads may be blocked.
• If you evacuated, return home when local officials tell you it is safe. Local officials on the scene are your best source of information on accessible areas and passable roads.
• Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding, even after the hurricane or tropical storm has weakened. Hurricanes may stall or change direction when they make landfall, or they may bring a lot of rain upriver, causing additional flood hazards for hours or days after the storm.
• Stay away from flood waters. Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Continue to follow all flood safety messages. Flood waters may last for days following a hurricane. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. When you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, if you can safely get out of the car, do so immediately and climb to higher ground. Never try to walk, swim, or drive through such swift water. Most flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water or people playing in high water. If it is moving swiftly, even water six inches deep can sweep you off your feet, and two feet can carry away most automobiles.
• If you come upon a barricade, follow detour signs or turn around and go another way. Barricades are put up by local officials to protect people from unsafe roads. Driving around them can be a serious risk.
• Stay on firm ground. Moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
• Help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
• Help a neighbor who may require special assistance – infants, elderly people and people with disabilities. Elderly people and people with disabilities may require additional assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
• Avoid disaster areas. Your presence might hamper rescue and other emergency operations, and put you at further risk from the residual effects of floods, such as contaminated waters, crumbled roads, landslides, mudflows, and other hazards.
• Avoid loose or dangling power lines; immediately report them to the power company, police, or fire department. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned off as quickly as possible, preventing further hazard and injury.
• Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service. Call an electrician for advice before using electricity, which may have received water damage.
• Stay out of the building if water remains around the building. Flood waters often undermine foundations, causing buildings to sink, floors to crack, or walls to collapse.
• When entering buildings, use extreme caution. Hurricane- driven flood waters may have damaged buildings where youleast expect it.
Carefully watch every step you take:
> Wear sturdy shoes. The most common injury following a disaster is cut feet.
> Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. Battery-powered lighting is the safest and easiest, preventing fire hazard for the user, occupants, and building.
> Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases, and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
> Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage. Cracks and damage to a foundation can render a building uninhabitable.
> Look for fire hazards. There may be broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces or electrical appliances. Flammable or explosive materials may come from upstream. Fire is the most frequent hazard following floods.
> Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
> Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice. Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
> Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company, and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heaters or by melting ice cubes.
> Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come into buildings with the flood waters. Use a stick to poke through debris. Flood waters flush many animals and snakes out of their homes.
> Watch for loose plaster, drywall, and ceilings that could fall.
> Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
> Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
> Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If power was lost, some foods may be spoiled.
> Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated. Hurricane-driven flood waters may have contaminated public water supplies or wells. Local officials should advise you on the safety of the drinking water. Undamaged water heaters or melted ice cubes can provide good sources of fresh drinking water.
> Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage. If the water is pumped out completely in a short period of time, pressure from water on the outside could cause basement walls to collapse.
> Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.
> Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations. They need to be clear for emergency calls to get through.
Pasted from <http://www.disastercenter.com/guide/hurricane.html>
D. After effects
Hurricane Ike was devastating to the regions it struck. Galveston, Houston, and the surrounding areas were especially hard hit by the storm. These areas experienced massive, long-lasting power outages as a result of the hurricane.
90% of the 2 million customers of CenterPoint Energy, the largest power provider in the region, were left without power after the storm. Entergy Texas, another major power provider in the region, reported that an estimated 392,600 of their 395,000 customers lost power during the storm. The one area that was notably able to retain its power in Houston, Texas was the Texas Medical Center, a complex containing 13 renowned hospitals. People experiencing a myriad of medical complications due to the lack of power flocked to the Texas Medical Center for assistance after Hurricane Ike.
Residential homes were not the only places where power was conspicuously missing after Hurricane Ike. Many traffic signals in Houston were damaged or destroyed or were powerless due to the storm. Some estimate that as many as half of the city’s 2,500 traffic signals were disabled by the storm. As a result, Houston’s roads were congested with traffic for approximately two weeks after Ike hit.
Some residents reported that their commutes stretched up to three hours because of the traffic jams.
Power outages in Texas can be truly devastating. Because natural disasters often occur during the hottest months of the year, it is vital that power remain on for as much of the city as possible. Due to the humidity in places like Houston, a power outage can mean quickly rotting food, billions of dollars in damage to restaurants and grocery stores, and insurance claims in the millions during traffic accidents. Many people are at risk for heat exhaustion and stroke during power outages, as the heat in asphalt and concrete covered cities builds to dangerous levels. [At my home east ‘n Texas, power was out for about 4 days due to a blown local transformer. Mr. Larry]
E. Prevent Illness From Food and Water After a Hurricane or Flood
Pasted from: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/foodwater.asp
- Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible and add block ice or dry ice if the electricity is expected to be off longer than 4 hours.
- Local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or use for cooking or bathing.
- If the water is unsafe, follow the directions of local authorities to safely disinfect the water.
Prevent illness from food
- Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat
- Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.
- Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.
- Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
- Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40°F for 2 hours or more. Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below can be refrozen or cooked.
- If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup (240 milliliters) of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Relabel the cans with a marker.
Local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing. If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning, or bathing.
Correctly boil or disinfect water
- Hold water at a rolling boil for 1 minute to kill bacteria.
- If you can’t boil water, add 1/8 teaspoon (approximately 0.75 mL) of newly purchased, unscented liquid household bleach (Clorox) per gallon of water. Stir the water well, and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it.
- You can use water-purifying tablets instead of boiling water or using bleach. For infants, use only pre-prepared canned baby formula.
Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water.
- Disinfect children’s toys that have come in contact with water. Use a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water to disinfect the toys. Let toys air dry after cleaning.
- Some toys, such as stuffed animals and baby toys, cannot be disinfected; they should be discarded.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
- Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by many types of equipment and is poisonous to breathe.
- Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window, door, or vent.
- Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open. Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
- If your carbon monoxide detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
F. Prevent and Treat Other Illnesses and Injuries After a Hurricane or Flood
Avoid floodwater and mosquitoes
- Follow all warnings about water on roadways. Do not drive vehicles or heavy equipment through water.
- If you have to work in or near floodwater, wear a life jacket. If you are caught in an area where floodwater is rising, wear a life jacket, or use some other type of flotation device.
- Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long pants, socks, and long-sleeved shirts and by using insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin.
Avoid unstable buildings and structures
Stay away from damaged buildings or structures until they have been examined and certified as safe by a building inspector or other government authority. Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal that the structure is about to fall.
Avoid wild or stray animals. Take appropriate precautions to avoid animal bites and rabies exposure. Call local authorities to handle animals. Get rid of dead animals according to local guidelines.
Beware of electrical and fire hazards
- NEVER touch a fallen power line. Call the power company to report fallen power lines. Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup and other activities.
- If electrical circuits and equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel.
- Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
- Do not burn candles near flammable items or leave the candle unattended. If possible, use flashlights or other battery-operated lights instead of candles.
Beware of hazardous materials
- Wear protective clothing and gear (for example, a respirator if needed) when handling hazardous materials. Wash skin that may have come in contact with hazardous chemicals.
Contact local authorities if you are not sure about how to handle or get rid of hazardous materials.
- Clean up and prevent mold growth.
- Clean up and dry out the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Open doors and windows. Use fans to dry out the building. To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water. To remove mold growth, wear rubber gloves, open windows and doors, and clean with a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Throw away porous items (for example, carpet and upholstered furniture) that cannot be dried quickly. Fix any leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing.
Pace yourself and get support
Be alert to physical and emotional exhaustion or strain. Set priorities for cleanup tasks, and pace the work. Try not to work alone. Don’t get exhausted. Ask your family members, friends, or professionals for support. If needed, seek professional help.
Prevent musculoskeletal injuries
Use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person).
When it’s hot, stay in air-conditioned buildings; take breaks in shaded areas or in cool rooms; drink water and nonalcoholic fluids often; wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; and do outdoor activities during cooler hours.
- Clean out all open wounds and cuts with soap and clean water. Apply an antibiotic ointment. Contact a doctor to find out whether more treatment is needed (such as a tetanus shot).
If a wound gets red, swells, or drains, seek immediate medical attention.
- Wash your hands
- Use soap and warm water to wash your hands. If water isn’t available, you can use alcohol-based products made for washing hands.
- Wear protective gear for cleanup work
- Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toes and insoles (not just steel shank). Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.
[Internet image: Looking straight up in the eye of a hurricane, blue sky and wall illuminated by sunlight.]