Preparing for a Hurricane: Before and After

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Beware of structural instability

Never assume that water-damaged structures or the ground are stable. Buildings that have been submerged or have withstood rushing flood waters may have suffered structural damage and could be dangerous.

  • Don't work in or around any flood-damaged building until it has been examined and certified as safe for work by a registered professional engineer or architect.
  • Assume all stairs, floors, and roofs are unsafe until they are inspected.
  • Leave immediately if shifting or unusual noises are heard if you are in an area as they may signal a possible collapse.

Avoid hazardous materials

Flood waters can dislodge tanks, drums, pipes, and equipment which may contain hazardous materials such as pesticides or propane.

  • Do not attempt to move unidentified dislodged containers without first contacting the local fire department or hazardous materials team.
  • If working in potentially contaminated areas, avoid skin contact or inhalation of vapors by wearing appropriate protective clothing and respirators.
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash areas of skin that may have been exposed to pesticides and other hazardous chemicals.
  • Contact the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Be prepared for fires

Fire can pose a major threat to an already badly damaged flood area. Fire protection systems may be inoperative, the fire department response may be hampered and water supplies may be inoperable.

Make sure you have at least one working fire extinguisher in your home. Natural gas lines may be disrupted; leave any area that has an unusual smell, notify the gas and fire departments, and do not use power equipment in the area as any sparks could cause fire or explosions if a gas line is broken and leaking.

Use care operating a home powered generator, and always follow the manufacturer's instructions including operating the generator outdoors.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/24/2016

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