One of the most terrifying natural disasters a homeowner can face is a tornado. Dropping down with little warning from a stormy sky, tornadoes leave behind a devastating aftermath of wind damage, water damage, and personal tragedy. Knowing what actions to take after a tornado is pivotal to preventing loss of personal property and lives. Here are some quick tips for handling the aftermath of a tornado.
From minor structural issues, to complete collapse due to wind damage, recovering from nature’s most violent storm is no simple task. To further compound issues, the longer you wait to restore your property to its original state, the more collateral damage you are likely to receive. Standing water damage can (and will) quickly lead to more severe problems, such as rotted wood, damaged upholstery, ruined carpets, and the growth of unhealthy mold and mildew.
Below is a list of precautions and actions you can take to mitigate storm damage after a tornado or severe storm.
Tornado Aftermath Safety Tips
In the immediate aftermath of a tornado, it is crucial to remain calm and assess the situation before taking any action. The first step is to ensure that you are out of harm’s way. Survey the area for fallen power lines, leaning or weakened trees, and standing puddles. If you find any of these, move far away and avoid them at all cost. If you are inside of a building, business, or home, look for signs of structural damage, such as cracked ceilings or damaged walls. Be sure the storm has passed and it is safe to go outside prior to leaving the home. Be aware that lighting and hail can still occur after a tornado has left your area.
Once you know your immediate area is safe, locate any loved ones and make sure they are okay. If you are in a group and there are injuries, designate one person to call emergency services (ambulance, fire department, and so forth). In the event of a tornado, there will likely be many injuries and people calling for help. By assigning one person to call 911, you help limit the amount of people tying up emergency phone lines and communications. Hold off calling non-critical family and friends, as this too, can tie up phone lines.
Other things to look out for include: hazardous material spills, broken glass and jagged metal, nails, and wild/roaming animals that may still be spooked by the storm (and therefore prone to attack).
Assessing, Mitigating and Cleaning Up Tornado Damage
Before attempting to clean up any mess left in the aftermath of a tornado, make sure an emergency professional has given you the all clear and declared the area safe. If there is any structural damage, threat of collapse, bare electrical wires, or fire, do not attempt to enter your property. It is always a good idea to shut off electricity to the home (through the electric panel) and shut off any gas valves to the home.
Once the area is safe to enter, consider wearing safety clothing, such as goggles, gloves, rubber boots, and a long sleeve shirt. A breathing mask can help protect you from any lingering smoke or hazardous chemicals. Once you have salvaged vital property (birth certificates, photo albums, and so forth) and cleaned up any spilled medication and hazardous materials, consider photographing the contents of your home to document damage for insurance purposes.
A good idea – and something you should consider before stepping foot into your home or business – is to consult a disaster restoration and cleanup service. If you live in North Georgia, Northern Florida, or Tennessee, catastrophe recovery professionals like the ones at ServiceMaster will come to your home or business, assess the situation, and develop a disaster recovery plan to help mitigate storm damage (including fire and smoke damage, mold and mildew, structure repair, carpet and upholstery cleaning, water extraction, and even document restoration). They can even help you work with your insurance company to make sure your claim process is as stress free as possible.