- Be safe, be smart.
WHN TIP – Be patient: Assistance may be in short supply and a long time coming depending on the extent of the hurricane area or due to hurricane-caused flooding.
- Injuries? If your cell phone works, call 911 immediately.
WHN TIP – Need Help ASAP? Describe the injuries to the 911 operator and listen to the instructions.
- Consider your family’s health and safety needs. Keep your family together. Be aware of symptoms of stress and fatigue.
- Listen to a battery-powered or crank radio or television. They will let you know about local, state and federal relief plans as appropriate.
- Pay strict attention to instructions from emergency management and law enforcement agencies. Obey all curfews and emergency orders that are issued.
- There may be curfews in place for looting control, safety or areas that are restricted because of hazardous conditions resulting from the hurricane.
- Stay on firm, dry ground.
- Moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet, according to the National Weather Service.
- Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines, and can be dangerous for small children.
- Stay away from flooded roads, rising streams and storm drains. The power of moving water could sweep you into trouble and you do not know how deep the water actually is.
- Flood water is full of bacteria, waste and garbage.
- Keep cuts and sores as clean as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
- Be aware of fire and electrocution possibilities.
- Report fires and downed power lines to the fire department.
- Do not touch wiring or electrical appliances. Even if the lightning has ceased, there may be downed lines in your area.
- Look out for animals.
- Many pets and wild animals have been forced from their natural habitats by flooding. If you are bitten by any animal, seek immediate medical attention.
- After you and your family are taken care of, help neighbors who may require assistance. People often become isolated and scared during hurricanes.
- Talk with your children about what has happened and how they can help during the recovery. Being involved will help them deal with the situation.
WHN TIP: The Media: Hurricanes make captivating news. A reporter may ask to speak with you. Remember, it is your choice whether or not to grant an interview. It is OK to pause and reflect for a moment on your and your family’s welfare before you decide whether to answer their questions.
Working With Authorities, Organizations, and Contacting Others
As soon as it’s safe, local and regional authorities — such as a sheriff or police officers, firefighters, ambulance services and state or municipal service workers — will be dispatched to severely affected areas.
Relief organizations and volunteers might be dispatched as well.
Remember to tell friends and relatives that you are safe.
Depending on the severity of the flooding, the time it takes to receive financial assistance may vary. Remember to contact all possible options for assistance:
- Your insurance agent
- American Red Cross
- The Salvation Army
- Faith-based organizations
- and other options.
Check our Hurricane-Resources section for more information about filing for disaster aid.
If You Have Insurance — Filing a Claim
Read 4 Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim for information on questions to ask your agent, how to keep detailed records and the claims process.
Returning Home After Evacuating
Be safe, be smart. If you’ve been displaced, all you may be able to think about is getting back home. Wait! As tough as it may be to hear this: a swift return may not be best for you, your family or your property. You may jeopardize your safety as well as your family’s financial security (by hindering your insurance claim).
More importantly, you must wait until authorities have declared it is safe to return to your home. If they have given the go-ahead, please read Returning Home After a Disaster: What Supplies to Bring and 5 Tips for Returning Home After a Disaster.
For more articles on spotting and documenting storm damage, returning back home and undertaking home repairs after a storm, check our Flood – Resources section.
Need to make repairs or rebuild your home? Read our 4 Steps to Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged Home and Home Repairs: 3 Steps to Follow articles.
Re-stocking Emergency Kits
- Replace items used from your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit and Car Emergency Kit. (Download the pdfs.)
- Review and update your emergency plan.
- Take the time to evaluate what you would do differently if you had the chance.
- Be sure to evaluate all aspects of your emergency preparedness plan: evacuation plan, home and family preparedness, disaster kits, etc.
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a doctor, lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or healthcare-related decisions.
Thank You …
A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.