After Hurricane Irma: 15 post-storm tips to help you recover safely

As Hurricane Irma moves out of our region, it will be time to get back on our feet.

But the danger doesn’t end with the storm. Here are some tips for getting your own recovery effort going, and staying safe while doing it.

Have more to share? Leave them in the comments below.

  1. Stay inside until local officials say it’s safe to come out. Hurricanes last a long time. Be patient. If there is a curfew or emergency order, obey it. Remember, more people are killed or injured after a storm than during one.
  2. Inspect your home as soon as it is safe. Be sure to check for gas leaks and downed power lines.
  3. Do not touch or remove debris near downed power lines. Do not go near downed or low-hanging power line on the ground. Report downed or damaged power lines to FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243).
  4. Do not operate generators, charcoal grills or propane grills in enclosed spaces, even if the windows are open. Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you if you use generators and grills inside a house or garage. Also, be respectful of your neighbors – generators are loud and many people will have their windows open because of the lack of AC. Don’t put it under your neighbor’s window! (h/t to Adele Valencia for that neighborly tip.)
  5. Be careful when climbing ladders during post-storm cleanup. Falls are the leading cause of injury after a hurricane. Use safety anchors and harnesses. Have someone hold the ladder for you.
  6. Wear sturdy boots, gloves and hard hats or helmets when cleaning up debris. Nails, glass, and falling debris cause many injuries after each storm.
  7. Don’t walk or drive through flood waters. Downed power lines could be submerged and cause electrocution. In past hurricanes, people have mistakenly driven into canals while trying to navigate their cars through flood waters. 
  8. Discard any refrigerated food that may be spoiled. Food poisoning is even more of a hassle when water is scarce.
  9. Mosquitoes can become a big issue soon after a hurricane. Wear insect repellent, stay indoors at dusk and dawn, and clean up standing water on your property as much as you can.
  10. Price gouging is illegal. If you notice any merchant dramatically raising prices, call 1-866-966-7226 to report it.
  11. Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damage. Save receipts for materials and labor for repairs and cleaning.
  12. Move piles of debris to the side of the road, away from fences, power lines, mailboxes or drains. Do not move it to commercial properties or vacant lots.
  13. The water supply may have been tainted, so check for “boil water” advisories before drinking tap water.
  14. Remember old-school traffic rules. Traffic lights will be out, so treat intersections like a four-way stop… but also remember that others might not do that, and be hyper-vigilant. (Another h/t to Adele Valencia!)
  15. If you lose power and need to wash clothes, a wide-mouth bucket with a lid can substitute for a washing machine. Put water and laundry detergent in, drop some clothes in and shake the bucket up. (ANOTHER h/t from Adele Valencia)


By Mario Ariza
Mario Alejandro Ariza is a Dominican immigrant who grew up in Miami. A Michener Fellow in poetry at the University of Miami’s Master in Fine Arts program, he is currently working on a nonfiction book about South Florida and Sea Level Rise. On a day with a good swell and northeasterly breezes, you’ll find him surfing on South Beach (yes, there’s actually surfing Miami.)