In our continued series on hurricane preparedness and home safety, let's focus on best practices for assessing and cleaning up after a major storm has past. Last week we discussed basic preparations for evacuating in the event of a hurricane, and not long after posting Hurricane Matthew made its U.S. landfall, hitting Myrtle Beach directly, leaving fragments of piers, homes and trees in its wake.
Although many evacuees are returning to their homes along the Grand Strand, the power outages and continued threats of flooding still affect many. It is crucial to not let your eagerness to get back in your home jeopardize your safety. Below are some safety measures and common sense precautions to make sure your home is safe to inhabit once again.
Coming home too soon may be dangerous. Even though a hurricane has come and gone and the skies are once again blue and sunny, many roads may be unsafe. Check the news and wait until evacuation orders have been lifted for your region. In the case of Hurricane Matthew, many roadways are blocked by fallen trees and exposed, fallen electrical lines.
Moreover, flood waters from heavy rain continue to move eastward toward the beach, making our region susceptible to washouts and extreme flooding. After Hurricane Matthew, the South Carolina Dept. of Transportation website provided helpful resources for returning home, including continuously updated lists of road closures and an interactive map to navigate around closures. Follow SCDOT online to make returning home easier and safer.
Conduct a thorough inspection of the outside of your home. Is your home damaged by flood waters or downed trees and power lines? These signs should point you toward calling a professional to inspect your home before entering.
Standing water in your home may breed dangerous bacteria, but it can also be life-threatening if your home has experienced electrical damage. You should never enter a home with standing water until a licensed professional has shut of the power at the electrical meter.
Look at the condensing unit (the exterior part of your AC system) outside your home for physical damage. Hurricane force winds may blow these units off their bases or knock them over. Inspect for physical damage and lodged debris. It's important to inspect the different components of your system, starting with the exterior unit, before turning it on.
If there is no standing water or a professional has given the go-ahead, it's now safe to inspect the inside of your home. It's important to note that if your home was flooded, most of your HVAC and electrical system components will need to be replaced.
We've blogged before about why flood-damaged HVAC systems are dangerous and why flood-damaged electrical systems need to be replaced. Not cleaning and replacing these can lead to situations that can adversely affect your health and safety.
If flooding did not occur, inspect each room to see if major appliances are working properly. If power has gone out, keep large appliances off until power is restored to avoid a surge.
Cooper Mechanical Services knows how damaging hurricanes can be because we've been a family-run business in Myrtle Beach for almost 30 years. Our licensed professionals are on hand to inspect, repair and maintain your home systems so you can get back to your life after a sever storm. Be safe. Call Cooper.