Keeping safe after a storm
Some of the greatest dangers present themselves after a storm. Keep these important tips in mind.
- Treat all downed powers lines as if they are live. If you see a power line down, call 9-1-1.
- Avoid standing water which may hide downed power lines or hazardous debris. Don’t venture out in the dark because you might encounter a power line that could still be live.
- Debris-filled streets are dangerous.
- Guard against spoiled food. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Do not drive unless it is an emergency. If the power is out, traffic lights will not be working. Stop signs and street signs may be blown away. Streets will be littered with debris. Washouts may have weakened road and bridge structures.
- Take precautions to prevent fires. Lowered water pressure in city main lines and the interruption of other services will make firefighting more difficult.
- Protect property from further damage. Plastic sheeting, plywood, lumber or other materials can be used to seal or protect property that has been exposed by the storm. Take pictures to document damage then make temporary repairs that won’t endanger your safety. Your insurance company expects you to do this to minimize further damage.
- Notify insurance representatives of any losses.
- Prepare a detailed inventory of damaged or destroyed property. Include a description of the item, date of purchase, cost at time of purchase, and estimated replacement cost.
Generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they also can be extremely dangerous. Hazards include carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire. Heed these important safety tips:
- When installing a permanent generator, obtain the necessary permits and have a licensed electrician do the installation.
- Use the generator according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Place portable generators outside in a well-ventilated area. Never place a generator inside a home including garages, basements or crawl spaces.
- You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, go outside immediately.
- Install battery-operated or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery backup in home.
- Do not refuel a generator while it is running.
- Do not store fuel indoors.
- Do not connect a portable generator directly to the house because the power you generate may flow back into power lines and cause damage or injure power line workers.
- Test your generator on a regular basis.
Since hurricanes can happen during the hottest time of the year and power outages are common, heat safety is important.
- Drink cool, alcohol free, uncaffeinated beverages.
- Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.
- If possible, seek an air-conditioned environment such as a mall or public library.
- Wear lightweight clothing.
- If possible, remain indoors during the heat of the day.
- Avoid strenuous activities.
Signs of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting, cool and moist skin, fast and weak pulse rate, and fast and shallow breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.
Use running water sparingly During power outages, lift stations that normally pump raw sewage and wastewater may not be operating. Please restrict your use of running water as the system eventually can back up into your street, or showers, toilets and sink drains inside your home.
Beware of flooding hazards
- Do not drink water from the faucet unless it has been declared safe.
- Be aware that anything flood waters have reached is considered contaminated, including food, canned goods, cosmetics and medicines.
- Call a licensed electrician if you have significant water damage to your home (it may be unsafe for your home to receive electricity).
- If you use natural gas, be alert for gas fumes. Call your local utility services from outside the home if you detect gas fumes.
Chain saw safety tips
- Keep both hands on the chainsaw handles.
- Never cut branches above your head.
- Cut with the lower edge of the saw blade when possible.
- Do not force the saw.
- Wear protective clothing (hard hat, goggles, sturdy shoes, gloves and trim-fitting clothes).
Traffic safety tips
When traffic signals are not working, intersections should be treated as four-way stops. To prevent chaos, please wait your turn. It is not necessary to report downed traffic signals.
Always keep a thermometer in your refrigerator. The temperature should read 41o F or lower. Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” However, you should discard food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. Remember – when in doubt, throw it out!
Don’t drink the water
Immediately following a storm, do not use tap water unless you know it is safe. If a boil-water order is issued, remember that water system boundaries do not always correspond to city boundaries. Residents who are not sure should check with their service provider. If a boil-water order is issued, follow these steps:
- Boil water at a rolling boil for one minute to kill infectious organisms.
- If you don’t have power, you can mix eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented household bleach per gallon of water and let it stand for 30 minutes.
- If the water is cloudy, add 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) and let it stand for 30 minutes. The water will not be toxic, though it may have a chlorine odor and taste.
Gas safety tips
- Evacuate immediately if you smell natural gas, which has the odor of rotten eggs, or see a broken gas line. Ventilate the area by opening the windows or a door. Do not light matches, turn on light switches or use the telephone.
- Call the gas company immediately from a telephone outside the home or business. If you are unable to contact your gas company, call 911.
- If you evacuate, do not turn off the gas supply at the main meter. Only emergency or utility personnel should turn this valve. If you choose to do so, you can turn off the gas for individual appliances.
- If you have difficulty relighting pilot lights, or if gas appliances have been exposed to flood waters, do not attempt to operate the appliance. Contact a qualified service contractor, or your gas company.
Picking up the pieces
After the storm, please separate storm debris into these categories:
- Household garbage – Perishable items, such as food and normal household waste, will be collected by your regular garbage service provider. This type of garbage will have priority service. Service may be interrupted due to road closures. Normal recycling collection will resume as soon as possible, but all other services have priority.
- Yard debris – All yard waste must be placed in the right of way. Leaves, plants and small branches should be contained in a waste can. Palm fronds and limbs should be stacked. Tree limbs must be less than four feet long, 12 inches across, and 60 pounds. Large tree sections and limbs may be collected as service is expanded after a declared disaster.
- Construction debris bulk items – Stormdamaged bulk items, such as large furniture and building and construction materials, may be collected as an extension of service. construction debris is not included in normal collection service.
- Household hazardous materials – Separated household hazardous waste is accepted free at the Tomoka Landfill in Port Orange and the West Volusia Transfer Station in DeLand for Volusia County residents during normal work-day hours. Household cleaners, paint cans, fuels, fertilizers, solvents and cleaners must be separated from your regular garbage and debris because they have specified disposal requirements. Please contact your local government agency or Volusia County Solid Waste for information. Volusia County Solid Waste – Emergency telephone numbers are listed on the back page. For service information after the storm, please visit www.volusia.org/recycle.