Last in a series of articles on disaster preparedness and how to safeguard your community, save lives and minimize damage.
When manufactured home community residents return to their homes after a disaster, they must be careful to go about it in a safe way. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends the following checklist:
BEFORE RETURNING TO YOUR HOME …
Walk around the house and look for obvious damage., loose electric lines, gas leaks and flooding. If there is water around or in the home or if you have any doubts about whether it’s safe to enter, don’t go in. Wait for a professional to inspect the house.
Use a battery-powered flashlight; don’t use lanterns, matches, candles, torches or other open flames that could ignite leaking gases. For the same reason, don’t smoke.
Don’t turn on appliances, lights or other household equipment until you’re sure they are safe to use.
Watch out for animals, especially snakes. Wear heavy boots and gloves if you are sorting through debris.
Check for gas leaks at the meter and at each piece of equipment. If you hear a hissing sound or if you smell gas, leave the area immediately and call the gas company from another phone. Don’t try to turn the gas back on yourself – have a trained technician from your gas company check your equipment and your pipes before the gas is turned back on.
Check the electric system. If you see sparks or loose wire, or if you smell anything smoky, turn off the electricity at the main fuse or circuit box, even if the power is off in your neighborhood. If there is water in the house, don’t touch anything electrical – leave the house and call for help.
Check appliances and heating systems. If they are wet, turn off the power and unplug them. Have a professional check them before you use them.
Check the water and sewer systems. If pipes are leaking or cracked, turn off the main water supply valve. Make sure that the water is safe before using any for drinking or cooking.
Clean up spills that could be dangerous, such as bleach or gasoline.
Be careful when opening cupboards – items may have shifted and could fall when the doors are opened.
Look for family valuables like jewelry and photos, and take steps to protect them from further damage.
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.
Throw out any food that may be spoiled or damaged by water or loss of refrigeration.
Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of the damage, and keep good records of your repair and cleaning expenses.