How to Prepare for Hurricane Irma and the Aftermath

By: Symone Grady

Person-Kayakaing- In-Flooded-Road.jpgHurricane Irma could hit the United States by this weekend, meaning now is the time for coastal residents — along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico — to prepare.

Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, with sustained winds of 175 mph. 


Preparing for the Storm

To assist with your storm preparedness activities we recommend that you visit the Hurricane Preparedness Video Library. Some of the topics covered in the library include:

  • Preparing your Home
  • Preparing your Pets
  • Preparedness for the Disabled
  • Storm Surge Awareness
  • Emergency Window Board-Up and more…

After the Storm

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes recognizes that after a natural disaster you just want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. And if your home has been damaged, getting back to normal is even harder.

Disaster-damaged homes can pose serious health risks, such as mold, lead, sewage, and other contaminants. Wrong or rushed restoration methods can even make hazards worse.

To help you get back in your home and back to normal as quickly and safely as possible, we’ve created a homeowner post-disaster restoration guide. The guide is full of helpful tips on hazards to be aware of, how to make repairs, and signs that you might need to call in a professional for help.

Food Safety

Generally, a refrigerator can keep temperature without power for around 4 hours. A full freezer can hold temperature for approximately 48 hours. These times decrease if the doors are opened. As a general rule, if there is doubt – then throw it out! 

The key to food safety following a prolonged power outage is to ensure the temperature of food stay at 40 degrees or below. Food in a freezer may be safely refrozen if the food has ice crystals or stays below 40 degrees. 

For food in refrigerators, a good rule of thumb is to throw out anything that has been above 40 degrees for 2 or more hours. This includes meat, poultry, fish, lunch meat, milk, and eggs. For more information, View the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency page

Water Damage

Following severe weather and flooding, your home or business may be subject to water damage, mold, and other weather-related damage.

To stop the growth of mold, it is recommended that you clean up and dry out your home or business quickly (within 24 and 48 hours). You can do this by opening doors and windows and using fans.

The Child Care Aware® of America Emergency Preparedness Team has recently added flooding recovery information to their website. Here you can find information about flood recovery, mold removal, and the health implications for children in your care.  

The CDC also has provided guidelines about cleanup and reentering your home after sustaining building and facilities damage. Their Water Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH)-Related Emergencies & Outbreaks page also highlights resources from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Red Cross.

Damage Assessment

As soon as it is safe to do so, it is important to inspect your home and business. Some inspections will be simple, others may need the assistance of a professional, such as a structural engineer.

Conducting this assessment early on is important, as the information obtained can be used to communicate the condition of your facility as well as the status of your program to your local child care resource and referral agency, licensing consultant, or supervisor. 

Damage assessments are also useful if you are eligible to apply for disaster assistance, which you should do regardless of whether you have insurance. In some cases, additional funding may be available to supplement your out-of-pocket costs or provide for expenses not covered by insurance. Here is a sample damage assessment tool for child care.

Documentation Tips

  • Begin documenting your damage claim by taking an inventory of your damaged or destroyed belongings and gathering your insurance policy documents.
  • Use a digital camera or the camera on your cell phone to photograph any damage (both interior and exterior of the building as well as contents).
  • Once you’ve gathered necessary documents and evidence of your claim, contact your insurance company or agent.
  • If you need to purchase supplies or materials, SAVE ALL RECEIPTS.

Even if officials don’t issue a mandatory evacuation for your area, you still need to be prepared for the worst. offers these tips to prepare for a hurricane and/or flood.


Sources: USA Today and Childcare Aware

Tags: Safety Tips