- Keep listening to your local radio or TV stations for information.
- REMEMBER...if you lose your cable connection, but still have electrical power, you can disconnect the cable, and continue to have access to your local TV stations for important storm related information. (Pre-cable era of UHF/VHF channels)
- If you evacuated, return home only when authorities advise that it is safe.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary. Immediately following the passage of the storm, debris may be covering roadways making them impassible. Emergency crews will be working to clear roadways but it may take hours or even days to clear them all. Avoid sightseeing. Roads may be closed for your protection so if you encounter a barricade, turn around and go another way.
- Do not drive in flooded areas . Avoid weakened bridges and washed out roadways.
- Stay on firm ground. Moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from downed power lines.
- Beware of downed power lines. Lines may be charged and dangerous.
- Beware of snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by flood waters. Household pets displaced by the storm may be more aggressive than usual due to injury or anxiety.
- Enter your home with extreme caution. Beware of fallen objects or damaged roof and wall sections.
- Remove shutters or plywood and open windows and doors to ventilate or dry your home if necessary.
- Check gas, water and electrical lines and appliances for damage. Do not attempt to repair damaged gas or electrical lines. Call a professional.
- Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated.
- Avoid using candles or other open flames indoors. Use a flashlight or other battery powered lighting.
- Use the telephone to report emergencies only. This includes cellular phones.
- Be especially cautious when using a chainsaw to cut fallen trees.
- Never connect portable generators to your house. Use them only to run necessary appliances and plug the appliance into the generator.
- Florida Power & Light has information that may help you determine if power is back in your area.
Home Repair Guidelines
Home repairs after a disaster may be the most stressful time for a consumer. The following tips will assist you in identifying unlicensed contractors and con artists:
- Be extremely cautious of anyone coming to your home uninvited and offering to do home repairs.
- Be alert to individuals canvassing your neighborhood in an unmarked van or truck.
- Insist on obtaining a written estimate or contract. In fact, obtain estimates from several companies.
- Be sure the contract or business card has an address, telephone number and license numbers.
- Ask for references and check them out.
- Don't be pressured into making a quick decision.
- Insist on start and completion dates in the contract, and do not pay the final balance until the work is completed to your satisfaction.
- If you need to make a complaint about any contractor, please review the following site for information and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Form.
Insurance & Claims
- Report property damage to your insurance agent immediately.
- Your agent should provide you with claim forms and arrange for an insurance adjuster to visit your property and assess the damage.
- Make emergency repairs and document them.
- Keep all receipts and take photographs of the damages, before and after emergency repairs, to submit with your claim.
- Take precautions if the damages require you to leave your home.
- Secure your property.
- Remove valuable items.
- Lock windows and doors.
- Contact your insurance agent and leave a phone number where you can be reached.
Homeowners Coverage Questions
- How much property coverage do you have?
Your house should be insured for at least 80 percent of its value, not including the land. If you have other structures on your property, such as a detached garage or a screen enclosure, see if they are covered. Some companies will not insure screen enclosures.
- Personal Property: A guideline is to have personal property insured for about half of your home's value, but you may need more if your furnishings are especially valuable. Lower limits typically apply to jewelry, electronics, guns and business equipment unless you opt for extra coverage.
- Loss of Use: This is a standard policy feature that covers extra costs if you have to move out of your house while damages are repaired.
Is your coverage replacement cost or actual cash value?
Replacement cost pays for a new roof if yours is blown away. Actual cash value deducts depreciation based on the age of your roof, For replacement coverage, your house generally must be insured for at least 80 percent of its value. Some policies care capped at your policy limits, while others offer "extended" replacement, which will pay 20 to 15 percent above those limits if needed. Even if you have replacement coverage on your house, your personal property may be insured for actual cash value. If you don't have replacement coverage, ask your agent how much more it would cost.
Which catastrophes are covered?
All policies cover losses from fire, lightning, explosions, riots, smoke, sinkholes, vandalism, theft, volcanoes, and aircraft or vehicles crashing into your house. Many cover additional perils such as damages from falling objects, freezing and burst water pipes. Most policies cover wind damage, including hurricane damage, but if you live in certain costal areas, you may have to buy separate wind damage policy from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to get coverage. Policies typically exclude damages from flood, was, earthquakes and nuclear accidents. For flood coverage, you must buy a separate flood insurance policy.
What are your liability limits?
How much would your policy pay if someone is injured on your property? Do you need more to protect your assets from curt judgments in case you are sued for damages? Check for lower limits and exclusions for animal bites and injuries related to certain equipment such as trampolines, diving boards, watercraft and off-road vehicles.
How big is your deductible?
Most polices have a $500 or $1,000 deductible for claims other than those related to hurricanes. When the National Hurricane Center declares a hurricane watch or warning in Florida, the deductible for windstorm claims increases to 2 percent of the insured value for most polices in affected areas. You could reduce your premium by increasing your deductible for non-hurricane claims.
What does renters insurance cover?
It generally covers contents and living expense if your apartment or house is no longer livable.(Your lease might not require your landlord to find you alternate housing.)
In the next few pages you will find helpful hints for coping without water, sewer and electricity; what you should know about trash and debris collection; filing insurance claims; avoiding unlicensed contractors; and the assistance available from disaster relief agencies.
- Leave your safe room slowly and carefully. Inspect damage inside your house only.
- Begin to clean up the most dangerous conditions such as broken glass.
- Call 9-1-1 to report life-threatening emergencies only - not damages or power outages.
- Wait for the all clear from local authorities before you go outside, drive, or return home. Emergency vehicles have priority use of roadways.
- When venturing outside, avoid downed or dangling utility wires. Be especially careful when cutting or clearing fallen trees or walking through water puddles. They may have power lines tangled or laying in them.
If you have exhausted your water supplies and have a well, you can follow some water purification procedures until water service is restored. Contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause disease. You should purify any water of which you're uncertain. There are many ways to purify water; none are perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods.
Before purifying, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of clean cloth.
The following are three purification methods, all of which kill microbes:
BOILING is the safest way to purify water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Of course, let cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it. Do this by pouring water back and forth between 2 clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.
CHLORINATION uses pure, unscented, liquid chlorine bleach to kill microorganisms in water. Add 2 drops of bleach per quart of water (4 drops if the water is cloudy), stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not smell or taste of chlorine at that point add another 2 drops and let stand for 15 minutes.
PURIFICATION TABLETS release chlorine and iodine into the water. They are inexpensive and are available at most sporting goods stores and some drug stores. Follow the package directions. Usually 1 tablet is enough for 1 quart of water. Double the dose for cloudy water.
Your hot water heater is another source of usable water. The hot water heater should be shut off, the inlet valve closed and drained of sediment (until water runs clear) and then refilled (opening inlet valve again). If you use this source of water and your electricity is off, turn off the circuit breaker so the heating elements don't burn out when power is restored.
No Sewage or Trash Pick Up
Emergency Restroom Facilities
- A camper or motor home with a restroom, that has a holding tank, can be used until the tank is full.
- A chemical port-a-john can be created:
- Use 5-gallon buckets lined with heavy-duty plastic garbage bags.
- Add about 1/4 cup of lime or regular, unscented, liquid chlorine bleach to the bucket as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Keep lids on firmly.
- Keep buckets in a cool, dark place.
- DO NOT DISPOSE OF HUMAN WASTE THROUGH YOUR REGULAR TRASH PICKUP! Dispose of the waste by flushing it down your toilet as soon as sewer services are restored.
- Clean and disinfect the buckets immediately.
- Your toilet can be used by flushing until the bowl has no water. Then, line with heavy-duty trash bags and disinfect with chlorine bleach after each use. When full, tie shut and remove to an outside location.
- If significant sewer outages have occurred, instructions for disposal of human wastes will be announced. Otherwise, when the system is operating again, dump the waste you've collected into your toilet and flush.
- Don't plug portable generators into your home's electrical outlet! This could injure or kill neighbors or electrical crews. Place generator outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Plug appliances directly into the generator.
- If using a generator, conserve fuel by limiting appliance usage to the bare essentials.
- Safety Tips During a Power Outage
- Portable Electric Generator Safety Tips
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.
Whether you are driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, Turn Around Don't Drown. You will not know the depth of the water nor will you know the condition of the road under the water.
Follow these safety rules:
- Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, or your favorite news source for vital weather related information.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
- Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Turn Around Don't Drown
- Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don't Drown If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers