Returning Home After a Hurricane

Once the storm has passed, coastal property owners know the battle that ensues when it comes to returning to their homes. Braving flooded streets, closed highways, and a potentially destroyed city to get home is the first hurdle. Next, these homeowners need to take extra precaution to ensure they don’t put themselves in harm’s way – especially as they’re eager to get home and return to their lives as normal. In this post, we’ll explore the key things to do prior to entering and returning to the home. Remind homeowners of high-risk coastal properties to file a claim and collect on their Property Insurance policies as soon as possible.

Inspect the home prior to entering.

If the home has flooded, there could be more dangers than they originally anticipated. Watch out for displaced animals, gas leaks, and dangerous debris. If there are any life- threatening emergencies, call 911 immediately. It’s also wise to have a structural engineer inspect the home to determine if it’s safe to enter at all. If the smell of gas is present, or if the foundation or support of the house has started to cave, do not enter.

Getting inside.

The house might seem safe enough to enter, but before you do heed this advice from Ready.gov:

  • 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. If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
  • Sparks, broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.
  • Roof, foundation and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.
  • Throw out food that might have come into contact with storm water.
  • Slowly clear out water from flooded basements. If the water is cleared out too quickly, the foundation risks collapsing.
  • Call professional inspector to evaluate safety of waterlogged appliances.

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