What to do when returning home after a natural disaster

Hurricane Michael might very well go down in history as the most destructive event to ever hit the panhandle of Florida.  In the coming days, as residents return to their homes they will be faced with the daunting task of clean up, recovery and repair.  The violent winds in combination with storm surge and record rains bring many obstacles.  These include a myriad of diseases, toxic mold and physical destruction of buildings, trees and of course the utilities.

If you were faced with a natural disaster, what would you do?  What are your priorities and how would you tackle the daunting task of recovery?  As the old adage goes, “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.

Power likely won’t return as soon as you might hope.  In the event that you have a generator, cook stove or pressure washer, under no circumstances should you operate them indoors.  Keep them outside and away from open windows or doors.  Prior to entering a building, be careful.  Electrical service could be compromised, gas lines could be broken and certainly, if you smell gas do not enter.  Nails, glass and splintered wood could be everywhere.

Wear waterproof boots and gloves to protect yourself from toxic floodwaters.   Floodwater can contain petroleum, chemicals, and deadly toxins.  Work methodically, but intelligently, starting in one spot to create a clear and safe space.  Use bleach to wash and wipe down everything to prevent mold from growing.  Use one cup of bleach to one gallon of water.   Never mix bleach and ammonia.

Washing your hands often is important to prevent infections and germs from spreading.  If you were to become cut or injured, seek medical attention.  Clean the wound better than you would have ever done prior to the catastrophe.  Be diligent.  Be intelligent.  You are already a hero to your family, loved ones, friends and neighbors.  They need you and they need you to be well.  Find medical attention if at all possible.  Tetanus is no joke!

If you are able to obtain a carbon dioxide detector, do so and install it in the areas of the home that you are sleeping in or spending the majority of your time.  Do not use heating and cooling systems until they are checked.

Listen to your public service announcements regarding water.  If in doubt, boil it prior to consuming it or use bottled water.  If there is a boil order, make sure that you boil rapidly for a minimum of one minute.  You can also treat water with unscented bleach.  One-fourth of a teaspoon of bleach works well with one gallon of cloudy water.  If the water is clear but untreated, one-eighth of a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water is appropriate.

Remember to keep your food at a safe temperature.  If you question it, don’t risk eating or drinking no matter how desperate.

You may never face a crisis like our friends in the south are now dealing with.  Consider yourself fortunate if you never have to.  If you do, please use common sense and remember my words.  God bless and best of luck in these trying times.

Regards…..David George, President