-Superstorm Sandy may be gone, but things are not back to normal in the affected areas by any stretch of the imagination. What can you do to keep your family safe in the aftermath of the storm, and what are the dangers you should be looking out for?
Clean And Disinfect
Workers in Howard County, Maryland, have been working hard to stop a sewage overflow. Families living in the areas affected by Sandy will have to do the same on their own. New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned citizens about the importance of cleaning everything touched by flood water: "Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from flood waters can contain sewage and chemicals."
That's quite a big job! If possible, using the upper floor of your house while you are getting the wet areas of your home in order could work. Some items, like carpets and curtain, can be cleaned relatively easily. Furniture may have to be replaced, unfortunately.
Using Portable Generators
Power is still out in many areas. Those who are interested in using portable generators should follow a few basic but very important rules. Besides making sure you have plenty of fuel available, you want to avoid placing the generator indoors at all costs. Portable generators may feel like a life-saving, but indoor use — and that includes putting the generator in your basement — will quickly turn the device into a carbon-monoxide emitting death trap.
Portable generators should be set up in a dry, safe spot outside. Gasoline shouldn't be stored in the home either, obviously. Finally, you should use the appropriate, sturdy extension wires in combination with a generator.
Check Your Electricity
Floods can cause quite a lot of damage to your electricity circuit. It is clear to everyone that the electricity should while a home is flooded. Since parts of your electric wiring may still be wet even after the flood has ended, it would be best to have everything checked by an electrician before switching your electricity back on.
Those who are still out of power have completely concerns, of course. Food in your fridge may be going off, and those people using medication that has to be refrigerated have a real problem on their hands. Insulin is a prime example of this. If you can get hold of fresh medication, you should do so. If you can't, it is safer to continue to use your old medication — but consult your doctor on what to do as soon as you can.
Getting Rid Of Mold
Floods and mold go and in hand, unless you take precautions. The first thing that anyone with flood water in their home should do is to pump it out as soon as possible. Attempt to dry all the damp spots in your home off, and wash and dry all your clothes and home textiles. Textile-covered furniture, like a couch, is really hard to save. Mold can cause serious reactions in some people, so know that you are protecting your family's health by dumping these pieces of furniture.
Are your walls still wet? They may take weeks to dry completely. The walls may be damaged inside, and may be moldy or even start rotting if wood was used in the construction of your house. There's nothing much that can be done while your walls are drying. Watch out for breathing problems in any of your family members, or even better — don't occupy your home until you realize the extent of the damage.
If you still don't have power, hypothermia could be a real danger. Old people and babies are most at risk of hypothermia, a condition where your body's core temperature is below that at which it can function normally: 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid this by dressing up in layers, and make use of natural fibers — especially wool. Temporary accommodation until your house is back in order or the power comes on would be a much better solution, needless to say.