As millions of Americans continue to dig out from catastrophic Hurricane Sandy, as well as for future reference, we offer the following words of advice from the Federal Emergency Management Administration:
1. If returning home to devastation, turn on your flashlight outside, before entering your house. A spark caused by activating the switch on your light can ignite leaking gas. Do not operate any lanterns or candles, and do not smoke before you are certain there are no gas leaks or vapors.
2. Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind under any circumstances (keep children and pets away from them, too). Stay away from puddles and wires in/near them. Do not touch trees or other objects in contact with power lines.
3. When reinstalling a TV or satellite antenna, check in all directions to be sure no power lines are nearby to avoid risk of electrocution.
4. 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 linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
5. If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 4FEMA to find the nearest shelter in your area.
6. If you become separated from family members, contact the American Red Cross (800-733-2767; safeandwell.org), which maintains a database to help you find them.
7. You can register for FEMA or state assistance by calling (800) 621-FEMA or going online at disasterassistance.gov.
Source: FEMA (ready.gov)