Injuries and fatalities can occur after a storm has passed. Here are some tips on what do in the storm’s aftermath.
- Tune to WQCS 88.9 FM at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to hear emergency information about Port St. Lucie. Remain indoors until the official "all clear" is given. Pay strict attention to instructions from official sources such as your local Emergency Management Office, the American Red Cross and the police.
- Do not use your telephone unless you have an emergency. Do not call 9-1-1 except for life threatening situations.
- Call (800) 4OUTAGE immediately to report hazards such as a downed power line, broken gas or water mains, or overturned gas tanks.
Water supplies may be contaminated during a hurricane. Public officials will issue a boil-water order immediately after the hurricane passes. The boil-water order will remain in effect for at least 72 hours. During this time, use only your pre-stored water for drinking or cooking.
Before using any food from the refrigerator, be sure to check it for spoilage. Use pre-stored, dry or canned food.
- Connecting a portable or recreational vehicle (RV) generator to home wiring can cause safety hazards. Before using an RV or portable generator, it is important to turn off electricity at your home’s main circuit breaker or fuse box. When electric service is restored, take another safety step if you’re using a RV or portable generator; disconnect it before turning on power to your home.
- When using a portable generator make sure it is located and operated outside the home. You can then run a heavy duty, properly grounded extension cord inside the home to power your electrical appliances.
Electrical hazards and service interruptions
- Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind under any circumstances.
- Call FPL immediately to report hazards such as a downed power line. Do not cut trees or limbs that are touching or even near power lines.
- Keep anyone you see, especially children, far away from power lines, trees in contact with power lines, and FPL work crews.
- Do not pile debris near or on top of power line equipment such as poles, transformers, or downed electrical wiring. FPL will be working to restore power and will be slowed by any items that block access to electrical equipment.
- Do not report interruptions in electric service. FPL has plans to restore service as quickly as possible after the storm clears the area. Report individual trouble only after service has been generally restored in your neighborhood.
- Evacuation routes will be the first to be cleared after an incident, followed by main roads leading to these routes.
- Return home only when authorities advise it is safe to do so. Remember, you may be restricted from accessing your home after a major disaster because of hazardous conditions. If re-entry is permitted, for security reasons you may be required to present proof of residency, be sure to have this proof available.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary, avoid sight-seeing.
- Flooding may force snakes, insects or animals to seek higher ground. Beware of these, and instruct your children of the dangers.
- Also caution children about playing in standing puddles or water-filled swales. This water in addition to harboring snakes, harbors a great many bacterial strains which can cause mild to severe life-threatening illnesses.
- Enter your home with caution. Wear heavy shoes or boots for protection against glass or other debris.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Emergency officials will set up staging areas throughout the community; it is from these staging areas that assistance will be available.
- If you smell gas, turn off the main valve, open the windows, and leave the house immediately.
- If you have been instructed by local officials to shut off your utilities, particularly gas, always have utilities turned back on by a professional!
- Check for water leaks, if one is suspected, shut off the water at the main water valve.
- Look for electrical system damage. If there is damage to the electrical system, turn off the system at the main circuit breaker or fuse box.
- Check electrical appliances. If any electrical appliances are wet, turn off the main power switch in the house. Unplug the appliance, dry it out, then reconnect it and turn the main power switch back on.
- Emergency cooking. If you are using a charcoal or gas grill or Hibachi, be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and do your cooking outside. Food can also be heated with candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots. Canned foods can be eaten directly out of the can, although the can should be opened and the label removed before cooking.
- Keeping clean is essential to good health. Because water should be reserved for drinking purposes, you should consider alternatives to water for cleansing the body. These include rubbing alcohol, lotions containing alcohol, shaving lotions, face creams and hand lotions, and towelettes.
- Respond to children’s fears. Concentrate on your child’s emotional needs. Having children participate in the family’s recovery activities will help them feel that their life will return to “normal”. Children are most afraid that...the event will happen again; someone will be injured or killed; they will be separated from the family; they will be left alone. Make sure your children know how to call for help and know their family name, address and phone number.
- Gas service. Should your gas service be interrupted or go off prior to, during, or following an incident, follow these procedures: Turn the main valve off. Make sure all gas appliances (water heaters, dryers, stoves, pool heaters) are off. Do not turn your gas on yourself; call your provider to do it.
- Check that sewage lines are intact before flushing toilets.
- Check house, roof and chimney for structural damage.
- Open closets and cupboards carefully.
- Clean up medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.
- Just as human beings are traumatized by disasters, so are domestic pets. The behavior of pets may change dramatically after a disaster. Normally quiet and docile cats and dogs may become loud and vicious. Monitor animals closely. Leash or place dogs in a fenced yard.