According to CNN, Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico. The monstrous storm spent three days as a Category 5 hurricane, maintaining winds of 185 miles per hour or more for a total of 37 hours. It also lead to one of the largest evacuations in the history of the United States, with more than 6.3 million people ordered to leave their home. Luckily, it made landfall as a Category 2 storm. As Irma drifts away from the state and finally dissipates, recovery efforts will begin. Here are four tips homeowners in Lake Park, Florida, and the surrounding areas should follow as they recover from Hurricane Irma.
Read This Before You Return Home
Once Hurricane Irma has passed and the skies have cleared, it’ll be tempting to return home as fast as possible to assess damages. But remember to use caution, especially if you live in a zone that was under a mandatory evacuation order. To ensure your family remains safe, don’t return home until local officials have declared the area safe.
When you decide to return home, make sure you walk around your property before entering it. Inspect for structural damage, loose power lines and gas leaks. If you have any doubts about your family’s health and safety, call a qualified building inspector or structural engineer to inspect your home thoroughly. Don’t enter your home if you:
- Smell the slightest sign of gas
- Notice floodwaters around your property
- See any kind of fire damage
If you notice any of the aforementioned, contact emergency officials and seek safety away from the property.
Follow Health and Safety Guidelines
Recovering from a natural disaster is a gradual process, and your family’s health and safety should be your number-one concern. If local officials have declared your community safe to return to and your home doesn’t present any apparent dangers, enter it carefully and start checking for damage. Here are some important tasks to check off the list.
- Don’t smoke or use any items that have a flame until you’re sure there isn’t leaking gas in your home.
- Don’t turn on the lights or use any electrical devices until you’re sure they’re safe to use.
- Leave the home immediately if you suspect your foundation, roof or chimney have debilitating cracks.
- Unplug wet appliances and let them dry, and call an electrician before turning the electricity on.
- Throw out food and other supplies that have been contaminated or have come in contact with floodwater.
- Be alert for falling objects when opening closets, cabinets and similar storage spaces.
- Disinfect all household items that might have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria or chemicals.
- Bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute before drinking to kill major water-borne bacterial pathogens.
Seek Disaster Assistance
Upon returning home, take pictures of any damage and contact your insurance agent immediately. Remember to keep records of all repair and cleaning costs. If your home is still without power and you own a generator, remember to operate it safely. Otherwise, seek disaster assistance from the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army.
- Never use generators indoors or outside near vents, windows or air intakes that can allow CO to enter indoors.
- Carefully follow instructions on how to properly “ground” the generator.
- Keep the generator dry and all of its cords organized to prevent fire and injury.
- Don’t plug the generator into a wall outlet, and avoid touching it while operating.
Invest in HVAC Repair and Maintenance
Part of restoring your sense of normalcy means restoring your comfort as soon as possible. If your heating and cooling system have been damaged, you’ll need an HVAC professional to check if it’s repairable. Considering the time of year, it might also be a good idea to invest in heating maintenance before the cooler weather arrives to avoid wait times later.
For the most recent information regarding the impact of Irma’s aftermath, call the Florida Emergency Information Line at (800) 342-3557. If you need help restoring your HVAC system and sense of normalcy, contact Mechanical Air Conditioning at (561) 899-4587. Our service technicians are standing by to ensure you’re safe and comfortable.