We hear a lot about people dying during a hurricane, but the conditions after a storm — such as downed electrical poles, floodwaters, and unstable buildings, among other things — can be deadly, too. This is important to keep in mind as you venture out to assess the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
For example, in 2005, the last time a hurricane made landfall in Florida, a majority of the 200 people who died did so after the storm had passed, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Hurricane Matthew has hit Florida with heavy winds and rain, leaving at least 800,000 people without power. As the storm moves out of the area, be very careful, as there are many hazards lurking around.
Whether you evacuated like you were supposed to or hunkered down and rode out the storm at home, here is a list of things not to do after a hurricane.
— Rick Neale (@RickNeale1) October 7, 2016
1. Don’t Go Near Flood Water
There are many dangers surrounding flood water after a hurricane. First and foremost, you should never try to wade or drive through a flooded area, as a flooded zone may be deeper than it appears. This is especially true if the water is moving with a swift current. Water just six inches deep can sweep you off your feet, and two feet can carry away most automobiles, according to the American Red Cross.
The flood water is also very dirty and likely contaminated, so if you do come in contact with it, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. Don’t Enter Your Home Before Checking for Damage Outside
Powerful wind and rain can cause quite a bit of damage to your home and the infrastructure around it. When you return home, walk around the outside of your home and check for damaged power lines, gas lines, and structural damage before you enter, according to the Red Cross.
Just because your home is still standing, doesn’t make it safe. Checking the outside before you enter could reveal a gas leak or structural damage that makes the home unsafe for people to be inside.
Gas leaks can happen during a hurricane when gas lines become exposed or are ruptured due to the extreme weather. If, when you enter your home, you smell the rotten-egg scent of natural gas and propane, or hear a hissing noise, leave the premises immediately and call the fire department because this may indicate there is a gas leak, the Red Cross says.
3. Don’t Use a Generator Inside Your Home
Hurricanes frequently knock out power to large swaths of homes during the storm, leaving people without electricity in its aftermath. Generators, both portable and large immobile ones, have become popular because they run on natural gas or gasoline and can be used when the power grid is down. These can be dangerous if they are operated in small spaces though, because they emit carbon monoxide, which can kill, according to the CDC.
Be sure to locate your generator far away from doors, vents, and windows that could allow carbon monoxide to enter your home.
4. Don’t Go Near Downed or Dangling Power Lines
Downed power lines are one of the most common forms of danger after any disaster. Exposed wires and wet conditions are never a recipe for safety, so it is best to avoid them at all costs.
Keep in mind that not all power lines will have fallen, and some may be dangling above your head. These can also be dangerous, so if you see them report it to emergency officials or your power company.
5. Don’t Be Quiet: Let Your Family Know You’re OK
In the aftermath of a hurricane, there is a lot of confusion trying to sort through the wreckage, and the lack of information may leave your family members worried about your safety. Don’t let them worry about you. Contact them and let them know you are ok as soon as possible.
Don’t spend too much time on the phone, though, as phone lines can become overwhelmed after a hurricane, and other people affected by the storm may need immediate attention from emergency personnel, according to the Red Cross.
So What Can You Do?
Those were safety tips for after a storm, but what about once it’s safe to assess your property? For many, the only way to rebuild after the storm is with the money you are owed from the insurance company. However, when you need the money most, insurance companies might try and deny your claim as much as possible.
If you still aren’t paid what you deserve, it may be time to look into hiring a knowledgeable insurance dispute attorney.
Our hurricane insurance dispute page offers information on what these attorneys can do for you, and also shows you what your insurance company should be covering and how you can help bolster your claim. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation to find out exactly how our attorneys can help you with your claim.