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Survival Guide for Returning to Barrier Islands

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Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 3:48 pm

What do I need to watch out for when I approach my home?

From Atlantic County’s Hurricane Survival Guide:

Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.

Walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage before entering.

Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building, or if your home was damaged by water and the authorities have not declared it safe.

Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualifed building inspector or structural engineer before entering.

Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.

Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.

Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.

Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.

Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.

Tips from a plumbing and heating contractor

Steve Goff, a plumbing and heating contractor on Absecond Island sent this:

It is going to be cold and damp in your homes when you get here. Please please do not try and turn on your heat (boiler or hot air gas furnace) please call an electrician and a plumber and have them look it over. Some will be able to be save. Most will not. A lot of folks' hot water heaters and boilers for home heat were submerged. There is saltwater in its electrical components and the burners are filled with water. It is not safe.  I have been in many homes already of my long term customers. It is bad here is some areas. If you have a basement...it probably flooded. If your equipment is down in a pit in your home it is flooded. The sump pumps failed because no electric. Even customers with battery back up systems were overwhelmed with water and they only last so long.

What should I do if my home has mold?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix any water problem, such as leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.

You may recognize mold by:

Sight (Are the walls and ceiling discolored, or do they show signs of mold growth or water damage?) Smell (Do you smell a bad odor, such as a musty, earthy smell or a foul stench?)

If there is water in my home, what should I do about my electricity?

From Ready.Gov: Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your community. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.

What should I do with my generator?

From the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Consumers need to make sure to keep generators outside and far from their homes, never inside the home, the garage or shed because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. We unfortunately see dozens of deaths each year when the power goes out and people turn to generators for power.

FEMA tips for dealing with damage

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