Earth Gauge Tip of the Week: Cleaning Up

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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Winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Irene took a toll on many communities.  As flood waters recede, many home and business owners will be facing cleanup activities.

Viewer Tip:  When the water goes down, keep these tips in mind to assess damage and begin clean-up activities safely:

  • Pay close attention to your local media for information on areas of your community that are not safe.  Do not enter any neighborhood or building that officials have deemed unsafe.
  • Use Common Sense.  Flood waters can weaken building foundations, damage electrical systems and may contain bacteria or viruses that can make you sick.  Winds have downed power lines, and broken trees and windows.  If you have technical questions or are not sure about the safety of your home or building, call a professional for help.  Many cities impacted by storms will set up help lines for residents.
  • When you enter any area affected by the storm, use extreme caution.
    o   Wear sturdy shoes to avoid cut feet – a common injury during clean-up activities.
    o   Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights.  Check for fire hazards, such as broken gas lines or damaged electrical wires and appliances.
    o   Check walls, stairs, doors, windows, and foundation for damage, and leave immediately if the building appears unstable.
    o   Check for sewage or water line damage.  If you suspect damage, avoid using the plumbing, and do not use tap water.
    o   Keep an eye out for animals, who may have been displaced from their homes.  Snakes and rodents may be hiding in flood waters or confined areas.

Learn more about returning home after a natural disaster at

Be sure to check out Earth Gauge for more weather and environment tips.

(Sources: The American Red Cross and National Disaster Coalition. “Repairing Your Flooded Home.”;