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What to do after a storm has passed by

Before a storm everyone rushes out to buy batteries they already have and tins of soup they will probably never eat. Few people ever give thought to what happens after a hurricane.

But when the winds stop there are often real concerns power outages, contaminated water and food shortages. This year, we are predicted to have 15 named storms. We have already had 13 in the Atlantic region and there’s more than a month of hurricane season left to go.

The most important thing is to make sure that a storm is really over before you venture out of your house. Many times people in the path of a hurricane can experience a period of calm as the eye of the storm passes over.

Sometimes people are fooled by this and come out of safety too soon and then are injured by the winds picking up. Keep listening to your emergency radio station for weather bulletins and information about when it is safe to come out of your house and drive along the roads. Often the roads will be closed for some time as emergency service personnel survey the damage, remove fallen trees and debris and make things safe for passage.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following safety advice for homeowners returning to their property after a major storm:

n When it is safe to do so, check on older family members and neighbours. Make sure all family members are accounted for.

n After the storm, drive carefully, and watch out for road hazards like debris and sinkholes.

n Do not drive through any water. Standing water may be hiding large sinkholes or may be deeper than it appears. Attempting to drive through even in a sport utility truck may stall your vehicle and put you in a more dangerous situation.

n Be aware of fallen electrical power lines. Do not drive over them or through any water that may contain downed lines.

n If power lines fall on your vehicle while driving, continue to drive away from the danger. If your vehicle stalls, do not turn off the ignition and don’t get out. Wait for emergency rescue personnel and warn other bystanders away from your vehicle and potential danger.

n When driving on the road after a storm, remain aware. Keep your radio tuned to local news and emergency broadcasts for updated information. If possible, keep a vehicle window slightly open so you can hear emergency sirens and other signals.

n If you are approaching your property or home after being away from it during the storm, or are coming outside for the first time, approach your home with a critical eye. Be wary of fallen power lines on or near your property. Alert Belco about possible electrical hazards. Be aware that Belco has previously asked that the general public not report power outages during or directly after a storm, unless it is a dire emergency.

n Avoid the shock of your life. If you see inside your home frayed wiring, sparks from wires or smell something burning but see no evidence of fire, you may have electrical damage. If possible, shut off the electric system at your home’s main circuit breaker or fuse box.

n Use portable, gas-powered electric generators outside on a dry and level surface. Never hook up a generator to your home’s wiring. Never use a generator indoors where odourless carbon monoxide can accumulate and kill you.

n Electrical equipment and appliances must be completely dry before use. Have a certified electrician check appliances if you are unsure of their safety condition.

A man secures light fixtures ahead of yesterday?s approaching hurricane Maria

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Published September 16, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 16, 2011 at 9:36 am)

What to do after a storm has passed by

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