Hurricane Isaac Tips — Flood Clean Up

FLASH offers the following insurance, safety and clean up tips as families begin the process of cleaning up after flooding associated with Hurricane Isaac.

Structural Considerations

  • Outside
    • Check for building stability before entry – sticking doors at the top may indicate a ceiling at risk of collapse
    • Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.
  • Inside
    • Assess stability of plaster and drywall – any bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage that should be removed. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved
    • If prevent warping of wooden doors, remove and disinfect all knobs and hardware, and lay flat and allow to air dry completely.
    • Remove wet drywall and insulation well above the high water mark

Insurance Tips

  • Take extensive photos and video for insurance claims. Only flood insurance typically covers damage from floods
  • Remove damaged items from the home. If you need evidence of damage, save swatches (carpet, curtains, etc.) for your insurance adjuster

Clean Up

  • Wash and disinfect all surfaces, including cupboard interiors with a solution of 1/2 cup bleach to 2 gallons of water.  Remove sliding doors and windows before cleaning and disinfect the sliders and the tracks
  • Clean and disinfect concrete surfaces using a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water. Mix according to manufacturer’s directions and apply to entire surface
  • Liquid cleaners can remove mud, silt and greasy deposits. Liquid detergents work on washable textiles. Use diluted bleach if item is safe for bleach
  • The National Archives Website has information on how to clean up your family treasures. Although it may be difficult to throw certain items away, especially those with sentimental value, experts recommend that if you can’t clean it, you should dispose of it, especially if it has come into contact with water that may contain sewage.

Home air quality considerations and mold prevention

  • Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores
  • Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces
  • To avoid growth of microorganisms, household items should be dried completely before they are brought back in the house. Although the drying process can take a long time, homeowners should be patient because it is necessary to keep a home’s air quality healthy. Some household items may take longer than others to dry, such as upholstered furniture and carpets.
  • Remove wallpaper and coverings that came into contact with floodwaters. Don’t repaint or repair until drying is complete and humidity levels in the home have dropped

For more information on protecting your home from flooding, visit www.flash.org.

Hurricane Isaac Tips – Turn Around, Don’t Drown

With many areas experiencing or predicted to experience flooding due to Hurricane Isaac, FLASH reminds residents to Turn Around, Don’t Drown®.  Just six inches of flowing water can knock a person off of their feet.  Eighteen to 24 inches of moving water can wash an SUV off of the road.  More deaths occur due to flooding each year than from any other thunderstorm or hurricane related hazard. Many of these casualties are a result of careless or unsuspecting motorists who attempt to navigate flooded roads. FLASH and the National Weather Service warns anyone who comes to a flooded roadway, “Turn Around…Don’t Drown”!

Follow these safety rules when flooding occurs in your area:

  • Get to higher ground. Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc.
  • Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.
  • Don’t allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. NEVER drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Water only one foot deep can float away most automobiles.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Monitor NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio or your local media for vital weather related information.

For more information on flood safety and how to keep your home safe from floods, visit www.flash.org.

Hurricane Isaac Tips – NOAA Weather Radios Provide Critical Emergency Information

Tropical systems bring the threat of flash floods, tornadoes and other severe conditions hundreds miles from the center of circulation.  FLASH recommends that families at risk for severe weather from Hurricane Isaac should have a battery-powered, hand-crank and/or solar-powered NOAA weather radio to alert them to tornado or flood activity.

NOAA Weather Radios:

  • Broadcast watches, warnings, and advisories immediately from your local National Weather Service office.  They provide 24-hour, commercial-free warning information for all hazards that may affect communities served by local NWR broadcast.
  • Should include seven frequency capability, Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) technology and battery backup.
  • NWR is available on the following megahertz frequencies: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, and 162.550.

Properly Placing a NOAA Weather Radio in Your Home

  • External antenna may be needed if you are located more than 30 miles from the transmitter.
  • Strobe lights, pagers, computers and text printers can be connected for the visually and hearing impaired

Helpful Web Sites

Tropical Storm Isaac Tips – Flood Damage Mitigation

FLASH offers the following tips to help preserve property and mitigate anticipated water or flood damage from Tropical Storm Isaac.  These tips are provided for use in areas where conditions still safely allow for outside preparations and/or the focus is on preserving home contents and possessions.

Outside Your Home

  • Analyze water flow through your yard and consider how water moves during a typical thunderstorm.  Inspect critical areas (storm drains, culverts, berms, gutters and downspouts) to identify potential blockage to proper flow of water away from your home.
  • Clear yard of any debris, plant material or items (garden décor, foliage, or garbage cans) that can block water flow and storm drains.
  • If time permits, secure and/or elevate outdoor appliances, AC units or storage tanks.

Inside Your Home

  • Place important papers (birth/marriage certificates, passports, bank and insurance information) in a watertight container and keep them close.  Take the container with you if evacuating or place in a high and dry location if sheltering in place.
  • Protect irreplaceable keepsakes including family photos, wedding albums, and baby pictures by placing in sealed plastic bags or watertight containers.
  • Take digital pictures or video to create an inventory of your personal possessions and keep the camera card handy in case of evacuation. Don’t forget to open closets and drawers to document all of your belongings as they will become part of any potential insurance claim.
  • Identify and move electronics and other expensive items (computers, televisions, phone systems, area rugs, expensive furniture) on lower levels of the home and elevate if possible to keep them dry.

Tropical Storm Isaac Tips – Effective Use of Sandbags

Before, during and after Isaac the FLASH team will provide tips and resources to help you prepare your home and protect your family.

In response to potential flooding due to Tropical Storm Isaac, FLASH offers the following tips for the effective use of sandbags

Filling:

  • Fill sandbags one-half full.
  • Use sand if readily available, otherwise, use local soil.
  • Fold top of sandbag down and rest bag on its folded top.

Placing:

  • Take care in stacking sandbags.
  • Limit placement to three layers, unless stacked up against a building or sandbags are placed in a pyramid.
  • Tamp each sandbag into place, completing each layer prior to starting the next layer.
  • Clear a path between buildings for debris flow.
  • Lay a plastic sheet in between the building and the bags to control the flow and prevent water from seeping into sliding glass doors.

Limitations:

  • Sandbags will not seal out water.
  • Sandbags deteriorate when exposed to continued wetting and drying for several months. If bags are placed too early, they may not be effective when needed.
  • Sandbags are for small water flow protection – up to two feet. Protection from larger flow requires a more permanent flood prevention system.
  • Wet sandbags are very heavy and caution should be used to avoid injury.

Consult your local environmental protection department before disposing of used sandbags. Sandbags exposed to contaminated floodwaters may pose an environmental hazard and require special handling. More information on flood prevention is available at www.flash.org.

Sandbag FLASH Card

Tropical Storm Isaac Tips — Power Outage & Generator Safety

Before, during and after Isaac the FLASH team will provide tips and resources to help you prepare your home and protect your family.

Power Outage and Generator Safety

In response to anticipated and real-time power outages due to Tropical Storm Isaac, FLASH offers the following tips to keep families safe and comfortable.

Family Safety/Comfort

  • Include power outages in your family disaster plan, identifying alternate means of power generation including batteries, solar-powered appliances, crank power radios, portable and permanent generators.
  • Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks.
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • Keep fresh batteries in flashlights.  Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.
  • During a power outage, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information –that’s what your battery-powered radio is for.
  • Turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.
  • Don’t forget to turn off all cooking appliances to prevent fire.  If power stops during meal preparation, you may not be home when power returns.
  • Check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives who may need assistance if weather is severe during the outage.
  • Take steps to remain cool. Move to the lowest level of your home as cool air falls and wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. If the heat is intense and the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be opened in your community.
  • Remember to provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pets.

Food

  • Keep a supply of ice, non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies, and pet food as appropriate on hand. Also be sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.
  • Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.
  • Have one or more coolers for cold food storage in case power outage is prolonged. Perishable foods should not be stored for more than two hours above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
  • Keep portable grills well away from the home and in a well-ventilated area to avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

Generators

  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.
  • Don’t plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home’s electrical system – as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.

When Power Returns

  • When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary, “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
  • When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.
  • When power returns, recheck cooking and other heat generating appliances to ensure they are turned off and do not pose a fire threat.

For more information for staying safe during power outages, visit www.flash.org.

There is Still Time to Prepare for Isaac

There is still time for families at risk to prepare for Tropical Storm Isaac. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® has step-by-step instructions for last minute preparedness activities that, in as little as one hour, can make homes and families safer and better prepared for potential severe weather.  Suggested activities include:

You can view a how-to video for each of these activities here:  http://youtu.be/BtlbtcpaNtw

If families have any questions, we will have experts standing by throughout the weekend via phone, email, Twitter and Facebook to answer questions as families prepare.

For this and other hurricane preparation activities visit our Protect Your Home in a FLASH (http://www.flash.org/protect.php) toolkit.

FLASH Experts Available This Weekend to Help Families Prepare for Tropical Storm Isaac

With the potential of Tropical Storm Isaac making landfall, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes recommends that families in the path use this weekend to complete projects around the house that can minimize or even prevent damage from high winds and/or rising water. Our Protect Your Home in a FLASH toolkit has step-by-step instructions for each suggested activity including:

You can view a how-to video for each of these activities here:  http://youtu.be/ho1Y7sHmh-A

If families have any questions, we will have experts standing by throughout the weekend via phone, email, Twitter and Facebook to answer questions as families prepare.

Finding My Life’s Mission

Tim Smail is the Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technical Programs at FLASH.  His experience with hurricanes started in a service capacity offering support to storm victims.  Later he shares the moment he realized there were things that we could do before the storm to reduce the number of people who would need help after the storm and how that revelation led to his current role at FLASH.

My brother got married on September 26, 1992 — just a month and a day after Hurricane Andrew made landfall in South Florida. I got married on December 5 that same year. It’s fair to say that I was distracted, but I’m pretty sure that I had no idea that Andrew had even occurred.

Like most people, the first time I paid attention to a hurricane was when it affected my family.  In September 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused the second largest evacuation in U.S. history with more than three million people fleeing the coastline from Florida to three states north. My wife’s mother and sister evacuated St. Simons Island for our home in Augusta and became part of that history. The same night, I received a call from the Augusta Recreation Department asking to open our church gym as a Red Cross shelter. Officials, emergency personnel and volunteers were all scrambling as the pre-identified shelters were filling up faster than expected.

After helping my family settle in, I headed over to church to join our pastor and the Red Cross representative to help bring our church on line as a shelter. We received approval around 11 pm that night to open, but we had no way to get the word out efficiently. So we sent teams of volunteers to drive around Augusta to the hotels, motels and 24-hour restaurants to let people know. By six o’clock the next morning, approximately 400 were asleep in the church gym. I spent the night there doing whatever was necessary, including unloading breakfast food from the Golden Harvest Food Bank truck.

Who would’ve known that volunteering that night would be my first introduction to what is now my life’s mission?

Fast forward to July 2006. I found myself standing on a roof in Picayune, MS during my first mission trip. I was amazed that even thought it had been almost a year since Hurricane Katrina, little rebuilding had been done in this small town. As we began our volunteer work week by replacing the roof of a damaged home, I wondered if we were really accomplishing anything.  You see, we were rebuilding the roof the exact same way it was built prior to the storm.

My job up to that point involved developing new sensors, instruments and systems for my chosen industry. So I started asking myself, isn’t there a set of sensors we can use to measure the damage? Isn’t there a way to rebuild the roof so the next storm doesn’t tear it off again? The more I thought about these things, the more passionate I became about finding a way to answer these questions and get involved.

My opportunity came in 2007 when the Department of Homeland Security offered research funding to assist with recovery from natural disasters. I spent the next four years doing research into ways of measuring residential resilience against wind, flood and wildfires. This research led me to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), where I continue it today in my position as Senior Vice President of Engineering and Technical Programs.

We will continue our Andrew Stories series on Monday with more reflections and lessons learned from this powerful storm…

Tips for Families at Risk for Tropical Storm Isaac

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes® offers tips and resources for families preparing in advance of Tropical Storm Isaac.  Resources include emergency plywood shutter installation, evacuation tips and items for hurricane emergency kits. We will return to our Andrew story series tomorrow.

As Tropical Storm Isaac moves west, FLASH® encourages families to take steps now to properly prepare themselves and their homes for severe conditions.

As this storm approaches, families may be tempted to take out a roll of tape for the windows but taping offers no protection against tropical storm or hurricane damage. Right now, families can follow the guidelines in our Protect Your Home in a FLASH toolkit to learn the correct ways to prepare for a hurricane. These free resources can help them get ready for Isaac or whatever else may come this hurricane season.

We recommend these preparedness tips for families in the path of Tropical Storm Isaac:

 Protect Your Home

  • If you have hurricane shutters now is the time to install them.  Make sure your shutters are working properly and fit securely to ensure proper protection.
  • If you don’t have shutters, install plywood, emergency shutters. Click here for instructions for proper measuring and installation. Never use tape on windows as hurricane protection.
  • Secure or relocate items outside the house that can blow around. Don’t forget about trash cans, grills, toys and potted plants.  Also, take time to look for any dead tree limbs and remove them carefully if you have time.
  • Have an evacuation plan for your home.  Before you leave be sure to:
    • Turn off the water, gas and electricity,
    • Leave a note that you have left and where you are going,
    • Be sure to lock your home.

  Prepare Your Family

  • Review your family emergency plan. Be sure to review and update any evacuation plans.
  • Ensure your family emergency kit is complete.  Your kit should include, at a minimum:
    • Enough food and water for all members of the family, including pets, to last at least 72 hours
    • Extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks
    • A battery powered and NOAA weather radio
    • First aid kit and toiletries
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Blankets, pillows, extra clothes, toys and games to keep the family comfortable and occupied
    • Special needs items for babies, family members with special medical needs and pets
  • Fill your gas tank; gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • Gather and store important paperwork like insurance papers, mortgage documents, marriage certificates, etc. in waterproof containers.

If the Power Goes Out

  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.
  • Don’t plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home’s electrical system – as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.
  • When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary, “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
  • When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.

For more hurricane preparedness tips, visit www.flash.org or call 877.221.SAFE