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.