by Nadia Laws
Before a hurricane, there’s often a mad dash at local stores as residents stock up on tools, batteries, flashlights, canned goods and water.
But what about after a hurricane? The Royal Gazette got the lowdown on what to do and not to do post-hurricane to make sure your home and family are fully protected.
- DO check to see if power is restored. If you don’t have electricity after a hurricane it changes everything, says Sasha Bearden, CEO and co-owner of Baptiste Limited. If power hasn’t yet reached your home or neighbourhood, you’ll have to leave your fridge closed as much as possible to ensure you can keep cold foods fresh for as long as possible.
- DON’T run the water or flush the toilet without electricity. Most longtime Bermuda residents know the importance of storing water pre-hurricane in the bathtub, as well as in large containers and buckets. This water can be used for brushing teeth, flushing the toilet and even drinking throughout the duration of the storm. But Bearden reminds people to avoid running the water in sinks or showers or flushing the toilet while the electricity is out so that you don’t cause damage to the pressure tank and pump. “If water in the pressure tank goes below a certain level, the pump won’t kick in,” she explains. “The system will have to be drained—that’s when people end up burning out their pump.” To prevent this, Bearden suggests going a step further by turning off water from the valve next to the pump. That way you can rest assured there’s always enough water remaining in the pressure system.
- DON’T forget to survey your property. When the winds have subsided and it’s safe to go outside, Mark Stearns, Presidents of Masters Home Center, suggests taking a quick walk around your property to assess if there is any damage to your home. You can also make a list of anything that needs to be repaired or any supplies that need to be purchased to restore your home to its former glory.
- DO clear the roads. Ensuring you have a chainsaw or handsaw on your property before a hurricane is a smart move, says Stearns. These tools will make clearing any large debris (like fallen branches or broken trees) that are blocking the roads a breeze. Not only will you personally be able to drive on the roads much more easily, but it’s also extremely helpful for emergency vehicles that need to transport people to the hospital.
- DO rinse off windows and walls. There’s obviously a lot of salt spray on homes after a hurricane, particularly those houses located close to the water. By rinsing down your windows and walls with a hose, cleanup becomes a lot easier, says Bearden. She suggests Windex, which makes a product that attaches directly to the end of your hose and has a powerful window cleaner in it. “This makes washing leaves off so much easier, before they become dry and stuck on.”
- DO clean your gutters. As part of your pre-hurricane prep you should have blocked up the gutters with something simple like a tennis ball or a rag. This stops bugs and debris from getting into your tank during the storm. But after the hurricane, it’s just as important to unblock your gutters and drains after you give the roof a quick clean. This will ensure leaves and debris don’t go into your water tank and impact your home’s fresh water source.
- DO be mindful of extra pests. One of the pesky things that happens after a storm is an increase in bugs. Bearden says she hears from customers who see “flies like no one’s business” after a hurricane. This is actually due to the moist and wet conditions, which make for ideal breeding conditions for flies. To stay ahead of this, make sure you have apple cider vinegar with water to spray all around the house.
- DON’T be afraid of getting your hands dirty. After a hurricane is a perfect time to get out those landscaping tools like rakes and gloves to help with the cleanup. Stearns also encourages people to open up the house to air it out after the long period of intense humidity.
- DO protect your furniture. In the unfortunate event you discover a hole in your roof caused by the hurricane, you’ll want to find some spare tarpaulin and rope. While there’s not much you can do while the winds are still blowing strong, Stearns advice is to stay put, get your family to a safe part of the house and when safe to do so, use the tarps to protect furniture from the outdoor elements.
- DON’T keep to yourself. One of the most important things to do after a hurricane is to check on extended family, friends and neighbours to make sure everyone is safe and everything is secure. Today, this is made easier than ever thanks to technology. Stearns recommends creating a group on WhatsApp so you can stay updated on what friends and family are experiencing. “Having that easy line of communication is always a source of comfort for people,” he says. “Even with the wider community, it’s great seeing how a crisis tends to bring people in Bermuda together.”