When conditions allow, thousands of displaced residents will leave family members’ houses and evacuation centers to return home. When returning, residents should pack a cleanup kit and inspect their homes before entering. Here are some tips to ensure your return home is a safe one:
• Check for downed or loose power lines and gas leaks. Gas leaks will smell like rotten eggs; call Con Edison immediately if you suspect a leak. Do not touch downed power lines or anything in contact with them and do not attempt to drive over one.
• Examine the foundation, roof and chimney for cracks or other damage. Inspect porch roofs and overhangs. If you find obvious damage or have serious doubts about safety, contact a building inspector before you go inside.
• Enter your home slowly. If the door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling is ready to cave in. If you force the door open, stand outside to avoid being hit by falling debris.
• If after you enter you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window, leave immediately and turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can.
• Check water and sewage systems; if pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve.
• When cleaning up, wear protective clothing and make sure your hands, arms, feet and legs are covered. If you have cuts on your hands or other body parts, protect them from contact with water or debris. You will want to protect yourself from inhaling harmful odors or fumes while cleaning up.