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Steps to Take After a Storm

If your organization has experienced a hurricane, tornado, or other major storm, keep in mind that swift response after the event can help minimize additional damage to the facility, providing it’s not a total loss. So the sooner you are able to visit the facility, assess the damage, and take proper steps, the better off your organization will be.

Once local authorities have authorized you to return to the property, follow these guidelines to minimize losses and stay safe in the days ahead:

  • If your property has suffered damage, call your insurance company to report the loss. 
  • Before re-entering your building, check for structural damage. Don’t go in if it looks unsafe or if there is a chance of falling debris or a building collapse.
  • Make a careful, thorough inspection for damage and potential hazards.
  • When you enter the building, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns instead of matches, candles, cigarette lighters, or other open flames because gas may be trapped inside. If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, leave immediately and call the gas company from a neighboring location. If the gas meter is outside, turn off the gas at the meter.
  • Turn off the electricity at the main circuit panel even if power is out in the community. Keep the power off until an electrician has inspected your system.
  • Do not start the heating system or boilers until the systems have been inspected.
  • Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect damage, avoid using the toilets and the taps. Turn off water at the meter, and call a plumber.
  • Make temporary repairs to protect the property from further damage by covering holes in the roof, walls, or windows with tarps, boards, or plastic sheeting.
  • Do not attempt to remove or replace displaced propane tanks as there is a real danger of fire or explosion.
  • Contact utility companies and reputable contractors to secure the building.
  • Take photographs of the damage to help document your claim.
  • Keep receipts for all expenses relating to the loss.
  • Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves and other protection during clean-up.
  • If floodwaters entered the building and left mud behind, shovel the mud out of the building; and then hose down the areas. Dry out the premises by using fans, dehumidifiers, and desiccants (materials that absorb moisture).
  • Clean walls and hard-surfaced floors with soap and water. Disinfect with 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water. Steam clean all carpets.
  • Remove and discard materials that cannot be disinfected such as wall coverings and drywall.
  • Throw away any food items—including canned goods—that have come into contact with floodwaters.
  • Until local authorities declare the water supply to be safe, do not drink tap water or use it in food preparation unless it is boiled first.
  • Do not allow adults or children to search through debris piles on the premises.
  • Check playground areas for disaster-caused safety hazards.

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© 2020 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.