The recent tornadoes across the southern states impacted thousands of individuals, families and businesses, especially in Georgia and Mississippi. Returning home can be emotionally and physically challenging. The most important thing is to take care of yourself and your family. Children are especially vulnerable and will benefit from establishing a routine, or “new normal.” You will also deal with a lot of emotions and situations. Throughout this time it is important to talk with your family and others. Below are some safety tips to help you as you return home and begin cleaning up.
- Make sure utilities are turned off or disconnected. Don’t enter your property if you smell gas.
- Use caution when reentering your property. Wear protective clothing, including closed-toe shoes, long pants, work gloves, and safety glasses. If you have any respiratory concerns you should wear a dust mask so you don’t breathe in lead dust, mold, insulation fibers or other contaminants when cleaning.
- Make a detailed written and video or photographic record of the damage to your property and contact your insurance agent or company representative.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent further loss from rain, wind or looting. Keep your receipts for reimbursement. Keep detailed records of repair expenses in case they are reimbursable.
- If needed, hire a reputable and experienced contractor to make the repairs.
- When you are cleaning up after the tornado, be aware that there may be household chemicals and pesticides that spilled, so wear protective clothing.
- Assemble cleaning supplies and equipment. This may include items like a shovel, wheelbarrow, broom, mop, hammer, crowbar, dumpster, trashcan or large containers for garbage, and cleaning products (e.g., dish or laundry detergent, bleach).
- Salvage valuable items first. This includes personal identification materials, insurance information, medical information, financial records, and valuables (jewelry and cash).
- Discard items that cannot be salvaged and thoroughly clean other items.
- If you have a well it is a good idea to have the water tested before you start drinking water from the well. In Georgia, and many other states you can contact the local county Extension Office to learn more about getting your water tested. In Georgia call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
- The Rebuild Healthy Homes App will help you safely rebuild your home.
The resources below will help you during your recovery from the tornado. Your county and state Cooperative Extension offices are also helpful. Click here for your state contacts.
Consumer tips for Post-Disaster Home Restoration – Rebuilding a healthy home
Disaster Recovery & Preparation – University of Georgia Extension
Disaster Recovery – Mississippi State University Extension
Tornado Resources – Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension
Disaster Recovery Factsheets – North Carolina State Extension
To learn if your community has been declared a disaster area, go to https://www.disasterassistance.gov