What To Do After A Hurricane

Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, photographed on September 4 after Hurricane Dorian. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

As of Friday, Hurricane Dorian has made landfall in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, where a state of emergency was preemptively issued. Over the coming weekend, Hurricane Dorian is expected to barrel through Nova Scotia, Canada, before approaching the waters just south of Greenland.

By next week, we’ll likely have a much better understanding of the devastation caused by the hurricane in places like Georgia, the Carolinas, and the Bahamas (where 30 deaths have been reported so far).

ABC News recently addressed the issue of what to do after a hurricane has passed.

Editor's Note: If you've never experienced a hurricane before and find yourself in an effected location, it's essential to be prepared. Here's what you can do.

Sign up for local alerts for your safety

Before you return to your lodging, make sure to contact the local authorities to make sure it’s safe to return. Alternately, search for your local authorities’ Twitter or Facebook accounts and follow them for updates after a hurricane.

Some cities may also have existing alert notification systems in place, so be sure to sign up before or after a hurricane passes if possible; they’ll text or call you in the event of any updates. (New York City, for example, has an existing emergency notification system. The state of North Carolina does, too; call 211 or text “NCDorian” to 898211 via an America line.)

If it’s safe to return, also check these updates for any indication of certain routes to take (or avoid) while driving (if you've rented a car). As the CDC recommends on its website, never drive or wade through floodwaters.

You can’t predict their depth and they may be filled with debris, chemicals or sewage — if you encounter floodwaters, turn around immediately. And if for any reason you do make contact with the water, wash your hands with soap and hot water and wash any of your clothes with detergent, assuming your water is safe (which we’ll address shortly).

Also, be sure to leave during the daytime, so you can have a better sense of your surroundings and without relying on a car’s headlights or flashlights. ABC News recommends turning your radio on to local news, so you can listen for any updates while driving, too.

Lastly, if you find your lodging severely damaged and/or hear unusual noises while inside, leave immediately; it could be an indication it may collapse. If you smell gas, turn off the gas valve (if you can, safely), leave your lodging and contact the owner immediately. As a precaution, wear protecting clothing like long pants and sturdy boots when entering the area.

Avoid electrical hazards in or around your lodging

If you don’t observe any immediate issues inside, remain careful of any possible electrical hazards. “If you see inside your [lodging] frayed wiring, sparks from wires or smell something burning but see no evidence of fire, you may have electrical damage, ABC News writes.

“If possible, shut off the electric system at your [lodging]’s main circuit breaker or fuse box.” Make sure you can turn off the breaker or fuse box from a dry location; if not, contact the owner and/or a utility company to do it for you. And have a fire extinguisher readily available.

If you spot anything plugged in and in contact with water, don’t immediately yank it out of the socket. Again, make sure to turn off your lodging’s circuit breaker before pulling the plug and do not use any device until it’s completely dry.

If the power’s out, look for candles or flashlights. And keep any gas-generators outside, away from windows, and in dry conditions. (Using one inside can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate.)

Make sure water quality is acceptable before drinking

Before you turn on the tap, check in with local authorities or their social media outlets to get information on the area’s water, which may be contaminated.

If the water is unsafe, do not drink, wash dishes or bathe using the water; the CDC recommends using boiled or bottled water whenever possible in this instance. And check any food that may have expired or grown mould before consumption.

Be sure to contact your friends and family once you’ve made it home safely or use apps like Find My Friends or Life360, so they can remain aware of your whereabouts.


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