Post-Disaster Cleanup

Posted: 14th August 2013 by Michael Levanduski in Misc., Survival Info
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disaster cleanupWhen disasters strike it is essential to be able to survive the event, but once the immediate danger is over, there is often a huge mess left behind.  This is especially true with natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and other storms.  After the initial shock of having gone through this type of event, make sure you know how to properly address the post-disaster cleanup so you don’t run into further problems in the days and weeks after the disaster. The following guide will help identify what types of things need to be done first, which ones can wait a little while, and how to stay safe throughout the process.

First Things First – Eliminating Hazards

Immediately after the disaster has passed, and you’ve confirmed your loved ones are safe, the first step in any clean-up job will be identifying and eliminating potential hazards.  This will start with a quick walk through your property to identify anything that might result in yourself or others getting injured.  Some of the most common things to watch out for include the following:

  • Tree Branches – If a tree branch has been damaged, it could fall down at any time.  Depending on the severity, it might need to be addressed immediately.  It is also common for tree branches to be resting on roofs, power lines, vehicles and other items.  Dealing with these unstable situations properly is essential.
  • Electrical Wires – A downed wire might be inactive now, but it should always be treated as if it were live.  Notify the electrical company right away, and if possible place cones or other items in a wide area around the wire to alert others who might come through.
  • Home Electrical – If there has been any flooding or indoor damage, make sure the electrical is not damaged.  Cords, plugs and other items can shock someone or cause a fire if they are exposed to water, or damaged in any way.
  • Glass – Broken glass is one of those things which can quickly cause serious cuts, and if not cleaned up right away, it can spread through a large area fast.  Take some time to sweep up broken glass and dispose of it properly.
  • Water – If a pipe was damaged in the disaster, or there is a hole in the roof, water can be streaming in your home quite quickly.  Turning off the water, or covering the hole should be a priority in these situations.

There are, of course, many other types of immediate hazards which might be present after a disaster.  Keep a close eye out for anything that could cause serious injury or death, and get it taken care of safely.  If you live in a city or other populated area, take some time to see if your neighbors need assistance dealing with these hazardous conditions so everyone is safe.

Preventing Problems

Once you’ve dealt with the immediate hazards in the area, it is time to start taking steps to minimize or prevent problems from getting worse.  One of the biggest things in this category will be any water which has gotten into your home.  Using a wet-dry vac, dehumidifiers and other tools, get as much of the water out of the house as possible.  Running fans to keep the air moving is also important.  If necessary, get a water damage restoration company out to assist as well.  When a significant amount of water gets into a home, it can result in serious mold issues, which can be extremely dangerous and difficult to get rid of.  Removing the water fast will help prevent this problem.

If you see dead or injured animals in or around your home, these should be addressed at this time as well.  Having rotting animals in the area can be a health concern, and scavengers which would normally eat these types of animals might not be out yet after the disaster.  Always use caution when approaching any animal, however, because if they aren’t actually dead they could cause serious injury.

Non-Critical Cleanup

After dealing with the above mentioned items, you’ll need to deal with all the non-critical clean-up associated with any disaster.  There will likely be tree branches, leafs, shingles from roofs and much more spread out in your yard and the surrounding area.  Having the right tools on hand will help ensure this cleanup process goes much easier.  Things like chainsaws are essential for post-disaster situations, so make sure yours is working properly on a regular basis.

Disposing of such a large amount of debris can be difficult depending on your area.  Check to see what the laws are regarding burning brush and trees as this might be the most convenient way to get rid of any unwanted wood.  For paper, plastic and other items, placing them into regular trash bags to be picked up is the best way to go.  In most cases, there will be additional garbage trucks used to pick up the debris in the days and weeks after a disaster.

Remember, no matter what type of disaster it is you’re dealing with, you will want to contact your insurance company as soon as possible.  Alert them to the type of disaster you went through, and the damage your home experienced.  If possible, take pictures before doing any cleaning up, but only if it is safe.  These pictures will be useful for filing any insurance claims in the future.  While nobody enjoys going through a disaster, and they certainly won’t like cleaning up after one, it won’t be so bad as long as you know what needs to be done, and you can do it safely.

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