Though Hurricane Matthew caused power outages for thousands and even the unfortunate deaths of a handful of Floridians, there is no question that the Sunshine State was relatively lucky to not receive a direct hit from the colossal storm. Even so, high wind gusts and rain may have led to a bit of cleanup around your home, as well as ideas of how you can better prepare for next time a major storm hits our shores.
What to Do After the Storm: A Post-Hurricane Checklist
- Listen to the Authorities: Before returning to your home, make sure that it is safe to do so. Fallen power lines, flooding and debris can all be hazardous long after the storm has passed. Always remember that calmer weather does not mean that the danger is over.
- Avoid the Roads: Roadways may still be flooded or covered by debris, leading to dangerous driving hours, sometimes days, after the storm. If possible, stay off of roadways until you are certain that they are clear.
- Food Check: If you lost power, your refrigerator should be checked and purged of any foods that may have spoiled. If you have any doubts, do not risk food poisoning — throw it out.
- Water: In heavily hit areas, as well as those that rely on well water, ensure that officials have cleared water as safe to drink. If you are unsure, boil water for one to three minutes.
- Candles or Flashlights: If you have to live without power for a few days, use flashlights and battery-operated lanterns over candles. Candles cannot be left unattended and pose major fire risks.
- Photograph the Damages: If your house, or anything within it, was damaged during the storm, take extensive photographs and report losses to your insurance company.
- For Next Time: Depending on how your home made it through the storm, consider making a hurricane checklist of ways you can improve for the next time a hurricane strikes. Consider the following:
- Preparing for flood risks by protecting your home with sandbags.
- Storm-proof garage doors with reinforcements.
- Cut wood to cover all windows or install permanent storm shutters.
- Consider investing in a gas-powered generator to power your home when the power goes out.
Hopefully, you and yours have weathered the storm with minimal damage and stress. However, just because the storm has passed does not mean that safety should be tossed aside. Always remember, it is never too late to begin preparing for next time.