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How to Clean up Your Home after a Hurricane

There’s practically no one in the US who is entirely safe from natural disasters. Depending on where you live, it could be forest fires, blizzards and snowstorms, heat waves, floods… For millions of Americans, the natural disaster they’re most afraid of is hurricanes. And there are definitely good reasons for that: the 2019 hurricane season ended with 18 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 intense hurricanes causing more than $8 billion dollars in damages. So if you live near the coast where you could potentially be affected by a hurricane, you need to be prepared. And we’re not just talking about preparations for survival here. Once you survive, you’ll also need to deal with the aftermath. That means you need to know how to clean up your home after a hurricane too. And that is what we will focus on today.

Preparing in Advance Will Make It Easier to Clean up Your Home after a Hurricane

Much how preparing for a storm can help you survive it, preparing your home for a disaster can help minimize the damage to it and make clean-up easier. So if you live in an area where hurricanes are common, you should be taking steps to secure your home in the event of a disaster long before it actually happens.

Prepare for All the Possible Consequences of Hurricanes

The thing about hurricanes is that they are often not the only problem you’re facing. Even after the storm passes and the winds die down, the potential danger doesn’t end. Heavy rains can cause flooding or mudslides, for example. You can also expect to be without electricity or running water for some time. Finally, there may be an increase in crime in the affected area. After a hurricane, it’s harder to obtain things legally before life goes back to normal. On the other hand, it’s much easier to access damaged and abandoned homes for looting and get away with it. So your home could be in danger of much more than just the storm itself. You must also take into consideration other hurricane-related consequences.

a flooded street
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Flooding is just one of the consequences you need to prepare for.

caption: Flooding is just one of the consequences you need to prepare for.

alt tag: a flooded street

For this reason, it is important to keep your home as secure as possible. As soon as you move in, start preparing your home for natural disasters. Install a good security system, upgrade all your locks, invest in fire- and flood-proofing, turn a portion of the house into a storm shelter and do everything you can to fortify your home. This will keep you, your belongings and your house as safe as possible during and after a hurricane, making recovery from it much faster and easier.

Get Important Belongings out of the Way

It’s not just your house that is in danger of a hurricane, it’s everything inside it as well. So if you’re worried about hurricanes, you may want to get your most important and most irreplaceable possessions out of the house and somewhere safer. By placing valuable belongings in storage, especially storage located somewhere further inland where hurricanes are less likely, you can keep them safe. There’s also an added bonus of having fewer things in the house to worry about and deal with after the storm.

The Steps to Take to Clean up Your Home after a Hurricane

While preparation is certainly important and helpful, there’s only so much that it can do for you. Even the best-prepared homes will certainly sustain some damage during a hurricane. So even if you prepare well for strong storms, you’ll need to know how to clean up your home after a hurricane too.

Wait for Daylight Before You Begin

Once the storm passes, you may be tempted to immediately start examining its effects and cleaning up. But that might not always be the best idea. Experts advise that you wait until daylight before leaving your shelter and returning home, especially if the power is out (as it often is after hurricanes). That way you’ll be able to see better around you and avoid potential dangers and injuries in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

a landscape of a city
You may not see sunlight for a while yet, but at least wait for daylight.

caption: You may not see sunlight for a while yet, but at least wait for daylight.

alt tag: a landscape of a city

Assess the Damage and Take Photos Before You Clean up Your Home after a Hurricane

Before you start cleaning up and fixing things, you should know what you’re dealing with. So go through your home and assess the damage first! That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with and it will be easier to organize a safe and efficient cleanup. Here’s what you should pay attention to:

  • How has the home’s exterior held up? Did any of the windows break? This can lead to potentially dangerous shards of glass inside the home.
  • Has your home been flooded? What kind of water damage has it sustained? This may lead to mold or rot so you need to deal with it fast.
  • Are there any gas leaks you need to worry about? If so, leave immediately. Call your utility company instead of trying to handle gas leaks yourself.
  • Has your HVAC system sustained any water damage? This may lead to health issues later on due to bacteria and mold.
  • Have your appliances come into contact with water? This can damage them and even lead to short-circuiting once the power is back on if you leave them plugged in.

Use the Right Gear

Even after you know what you’re dealing with, it can be dangerous to clean up your home after a hurricane. Structural damage and debris can easily lead to injuries. For this reason, the CDC advises the use of protective gear such as hard hats, goggles, work gloves, and waterproof boots.

Ask for Help to Clean up Your Home after a Hurricane

It is unwise to deal with the immediate aftermath of a hurricane alone. Not only is it all too much work for one person, but you will also have no one there to help in case something happens to you. So always work in a pair or a group. Ask your friends and family for help and check out disaster relief efforts being done in the area by organizations like the Red Cross for additional assistance, advice, and supplies.

a person wearing a Red Cross jacket
Image by Matthias Zomer from Pexels
Organizations and volunteers with disaster relief efforts may be able to assist you.

caption: Organizations and volunteers with disaster relief efforts may be able to assist you.

alt tag: a person wearing a Red Cross jacket

Get Organized and Start Cleaning!

The actual process of cleaning up your home can be quite overwhelming. There will definitely be a lot to do and the recovery will take some time. But you cannot let this discourage you! Instead, you should plan out your cleanup and start as soon as it’s safe to do so. There are several different ways to organize a post-hurricane cleanup. You can start with areas that sustained the most damage and need the most care, for example. Or you can focus on those areas that didn’t suffer too much because you can deal with them faster. Another popular strategy is to concentrate on the areas of the home that you most need and clean those first.

Whichever way you choose to organize, it’s important to be thorough. It is going to take time to get your home clean after a disaster anyway, so there’s no point in rushing the job. Instead, take the time to clean everything properly. Air out the space, get rid of the debris, wipe down hard surfaces, dry soft surfaces, throw away inedible food, replace appliances and furniture that you can’t save, but above all, make sure you go through every inch of the house with a fine-tooth comb.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

It’s easy to forget about your own needs while you clean up your home after a hurricane. But your home isn’t the only one that needs some TLC in this situation. Dealing with a disaster like this is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. So be sure to take care of yourself too! Take frequent breaks instead of pushing yourself too hard and check in with your friends and family to ensure everyone is in a good enough headspace to keep going. Emergency services can help you if the situation becomes too dire to handle.

About the Author: Parker Jones is a New York-based Political Science major and freelance journalist fascinated by all things apocalyptic, dystopian and disaster-related. He also enjoys reading novels about such topics and spending time with his two dogs.

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