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EmergencyChecklistSuppliesAre you and your family prepared?
The two key elements to weather safety are to prepare for the risks and to act on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials. When you know what to do, you and your family can prepare in advance to be ready for any weather emergency.

It is important to understand the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. A hurricane watch means that a hurricane may occur within the next 48 hours. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected to strike your area within the next 36 hours. Hurricane threats come in many forms, including heavy rainfall, flooding, storm surge, high winds, and tornadoes. Here are some steps to take before a storm hits:

  • Make a plan with your family because you may not be together if a disaster strikes.
  • Prepare an emergency home kit with the proper supplies.
  • Pack a go bag for every member of your household that includes emergency supplies each person would need if you had to evacuate.
  • Have two weeks' worth of your important medications on hand as a reserve.
  • Plan your evacuation route in advance of a storm and practice it with your family.
  • Stock up on drinking water and non-perishable goods.
  • Have a supply of batteries and be sure you have flashlights and a portable radio that are in good working condition.
  • Review how to shut off utilities in an emergency with all family members.
  • Close storm shutters and board up all windows.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside.
  • Secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
  • Fuel your car in case you must leave immediately.
  • Fill your home's oil tank and ensure the cap is tight to prevent spills. Above-ground tanks should also be strapped to a secure fixture to prevent tipping in case of flooding.
  • If you have a generator or chain saw, fuel it up ahead of time, but operate it only outdoors and away from open windows.

Resources (Preparing for a hurricane)

How to recover from a hurricane
Once the immediate emergency is over, there are a number of steps you should take to ensure your safety. You may want to begin by using a camera so you can take inventory of any storm damage for future damage claims. 

Before you enter your home, there are certain important steps you should take. For example, walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines and gas leaks, or structural damage to the roof, foundation or chimney cracks. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.

In addition, be sure to check for the following inside and outside your home: 

  • Natural gas - If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor’s residence or outside on a mobile phone.
  • Sparks, broken or frayed wires - If you see sparks or broken or frayed wire or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice. Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
  • Water and sewage damage - Flood waters and standing waters pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries. Limit your contact with flood waters to keep yourself and your family safe.
  • Food - Keeping food safe during and after an emergency, such as a hurricane, Nor'easter, flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power is extremely important. If power fails, keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible to help prevent food from spoiling. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become spoiled, contaminated or have come into contact with floodwater. During a prolonged power outage, the following foods are potentially hazardous if not stored below 41 degrees Fahrenheit and should be discarded: meat, poultry, seafood, cold cuts, hot dogs, eggs, cream, sour cream, yogurt, milk, custards, puddings, soft and shredded cheeses, cut fruit, cooked vegetables, cooked pasta, casseroles, unbaked cookie and bread dough, gravy, creamy salad dressings, fish sauces, hoisin sauce, opened spaghetti sauce and garlic in oil. REMEMBER, WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.
  • Appliances - If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again. 
  • Portable Generator - The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns. Never run generators indoors, including inside garages, basements, crawlspaces and sheds.  Get to fresh air right away if you start to feel dizzy or weak and call 9-1-1. Always follow the instructions that come with your generator. 
  • Space Heaters - Portable space heaters can be helpful as a supplemental source of heat for your home in cold weather. However, space heaters can pose fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly. Fire and electrical dangers can be caused by space heaters without adequate safety features and those placed near flammable materials. Safety must always be a top priority when operating a space heater
  • Chain saws - The potential risk of chain saw injury increases after hurricanes and other natural disasters, when chain saws are widely used to remove fallen or partially fallen trees and tree branches. When possible, it's best to have a chain saw operator who has training and experience in safe chain saw use and cutting techniques to fell and remove limbs from trees. If you must use a chain saw, be certain to operate, adjust, and maintain the saw according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Properly sharpen and lubricate chain saw blades and always choose the proper size of chain saw to match the job. Wear the appropriate protective equipment, which includes a hard hat, safety glasses, hearing protection, heavy work gloves, cut-resistant legwear and boots. Always cut at waist level or below to maintain secure control over the chain saw and take care to avoid contact with power lines. Bystanders or co-workers should remain at least two tree lengths away from anyone felling a tree. If an injury occurs, apply direct pressure to areas of heavy bleeding and call 9-1-1.
  • Garbage and Rodents - Garbage invites insects and rodents. After a hurricane, rodents are often looking for food because the storm has destroyed their homes and normal food source. Store your garbage in watertight, rodent/insect-proof containers with tight-fitting covers. If your garbage pick-up has been interrupted, check with your municipality to find out when it will resume.

Resources (After a hurricane)