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During a storm

Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.

Listen to Your Battery-Powered Radio for News and Instructions

  • Stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Find a safe area in your home (an interior room, a closet or bathroom on the lower level). 
  • If flooding threatens your home, turn off electricity at the main breaker. 
  • If you lose power, turn off major appliances such as the air conditioner and water heater to reduce damage. 
  • Do not use electrical appliances, including your computer. 
  • Do not go outside. If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm, but at the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane force and will come from the opposite direction. Also, do not go outside to see "what the wind feels like." It is too easy to be hit by flying debris. 
  • Beware of lightning. Stay away from electrical equipment. Don't use the phone or take a bath/shower during the storm.
  • Find the safest place in the house to ride out the storm. Generally some place in the interior of the house i.e., an interior closet.
  • Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
  • If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power "surge" when electricity is restored.

After the storm

Typically, more deaths occur after an emergency than during. These deaths come from people being too anxious to get outside and survey the damage where they come into contact with downed power lines or unstable trees, etc. Follow these suggestions for staying safe after an emergency: 

  • Remain indoors until an official "all clear" is given. 
  • Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind under any circumstances. Stay away from puddles with wires in/near them. Do not touch trees or other objects in contact with power lines. 
  • USE PHONES ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES. Call 911 only for life-threatening situations. 
  • Call police or utility companies immediately to report hazards such as downed power lines, broken gas or water mains, overturned gas tanks, etc. 
  • Watch for weakened roads, bridges, tree limbs or porches which could collapse unexpectedly. 
  • After power is restored, check refrigerated food for spoilage. (Spoiled food is the cause of much sickness two days to a week after the storm.) 
  • When reinstalling a CB, TV or satellite antenna, check in all directions to be sure no power lines are nearby. The same goes for climbing trees to clear debris. 
  • Do not operate charcoal grills, propane camping stoves or generators indoors.
  • Beware of snakes, insects, and animals driven to higher ground by flood water. 
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home. 
  • Check refrigerated foods for spoilage. 
  • Use flashlights. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage. 
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly. 
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities. (You will need a professional to turn gas back on.) 
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately. 
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents and for insurance claims. 
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. 
  • Use telephone only for emergency calls. 

Remember to...

  • Confine or secure your pets. 
  • Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency. 
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons. 
  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off. 
  • Stay away from downed power lines.

For more information:
CDC - Inspecting for Home Hazards