Staying healthy and safe
10 health and safety tips
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
- If your refrigator lost power for more than 4 hours, toss perishable foods. Reference this handy guide from foodsafety.gov to help you determine what’s safe to keep.
- Turn off or disconnect any appliances — such as stoves — equipment and electronics that you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to your local utility company.
- Walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. Take pictures of any damage.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building, or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control.
- Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator is turned off.
Safety during recovery
- Prevent illness after a natural disaster – Learn how to help prevent illness and avoid hazards after a disaster from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Food and water safety – Learn what to do during and after a power outage or flood, from the Food and Drug Administration.
- Debris and damaged buildings – Hazards to be aware of when you return to your home or business after a disaster, including unsound buildings and chemical spills.
- Eye safety for emergency response and disaster recovery
- Power outage safety – Learn how to prepare yourself and your home for power outages.
- Emergency generator safety tips
- Self-help and coping – Learn what to expect after a traumatic event and how to deal with stress. Access the PTSD Coach Online from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Coping with disaster – Learn how adults and children may react differently, techniques for disaster-related stress, and when to seek help.
- Coping with traumatic events – Coping techniques and information about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Coping with a disaster or traumatic event – Find resources that can help you, including crisis hotlines and information for individuals, families, and schools.
- Disaster Distress Helpline – Call 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a–year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.