Hurricane Irma was downgraded from a Category 5 disaster with 185-mph record-breaking winds to a severe tropical storm as it reached Georgia Monday, only after taking at least 37 lives in the Caribbean, five in Florida and at least three in Georgia.
While the storm weakened over the weekend, Irma is still packing powerful winds and causing flooding as well as damage to trees and power lines.
But even after the storm passes through your city, it’s imperative that residents and evacuees in Irma-affected areas follow some post-storm tips.
Here are 10 things you should do right after the storm hits or passes:
1. If you’ve experienced flooding, keep all electricity turned off.
Due to possible risk of experiencing electrical shock or fire, it’s recommended that anyone that has experienced flooding not turn on any electricity, especially around appliances that have been wet.
2. Don’t turn all of your major appliances on at once.
If you haven’t experienced flooding, you should still be sure to turn your major appliances on gradually.
3. Don’t touch any downed wire.
According to Georgia Power, touching downed wire, including telephone or cable TV wires, can kill.
If you notice any downed wires, immediately inform Georgia Power or your local authorities.
4. Never use generators indoors or outside near windows, vents.
According to Stephen Nelson, Polk County chief medical examiner in Orlando, Florida, the main source of carbon monoxide poisining after hurricanes is the power generator.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning is a huge problem,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “Don’t put the generators in your garage to power your house. The generator needs to be outside the house way far away from anything that can suck carbon monoxide into your house.”
5. Don’t step in a puddle.
Georgia Power warns against stepping in any puddles of water after a storm, because they may be electrified.
6. Document all damages.
Take thorough photos and videos of any damage and keep a running list of your damaged items.
7. File an insurance claim for said damages.
Use your documented damages to file an insurance claim. When you contact your insurance company, let them know that you have a full inventory of your damages in hand.
After you file a claim and the insurance company gets back to you, an insurance adjuster should come to your property to further assess the damage.
Additionally, Paul Holmes of the Today Show recommends that when it comes to repairs, focus on emergency repairs and leave the rest for your insurance adjuster to see.
For more questions about insurance policies after a storm, contact your insurance company.
8. Seek professionals for any electrical repairs.
“Let our crews do the dangerous work,” Georgia Power warns.
9. Use protective gear when cleaning up.
Wear work gloves, safety classes, long sleeves and pants and boots if possible.
10. Plan better for the next disaster.
Apply for flood insurance and take other preventative steps, such as keeping a Ready kit in hand for evacuations, keeping trees and shrubs trimmed and coming up with a plan for your pets.