WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — The rain may have slowed to a drizzle, the wind only whispering instead of howling, but the hazards that a storm leaves in its wake are still there. This is what you’ll need to know to stay safe after a storm has passed.

Things you need to do after the storm has passed:

If you evacuated, do not return until local officials, NWS, or Emergency Management say you can 

  • Depending on how severe the storm was, you may be better off staying where you are for a while. Now that the storm is over, it’s likely that there is debris scattered that could potentially become dangerous if picked up by wind. Also, there may not be electricity and clean water. There is also the chance that you may not be able to make it home with flooded roads, downed trees and powerlines, and other damages.

If you stayed home, do not go outside until the storm has completely passed 

  • Again, there will be debris that can be easily picked up by the wind scattered across the impacted area. If it is flooded, there can be things in the water that you can’t see that can injure you. Downed powerlines in flood waters are also extremely dangerous.

Conduct an initial damage assessment of your immediate area 

  • When it is safe, take a look around your immediate area, your home, or your safe location. Before venturing out too far, make sure there are no continuing hazards such as live power lines, gas leaks, etc. If hazardous conditions exist, leave that area immediately and seek a safer location elsewhere. Know where shut-off valves for electricity, natural gas, and water are and turn them off if needed. 

If possible, attempt to contact family and/or friends outside of the area

  • Let them know of your condition, and update them on your safety.

Refrain from sightseeing

  • Too many people are injured or killed after a storm has passed, which can be prevented by staying in your safe location until it is given the go-ahead to venture out. Live power lines, gas leaks, dangling tree branches, flooding, damaged roadways, and dangerous wildlife (e.g. snakes, alligators) can be life-threatening. There is no need to go walking and/or driving around after a storm. Driving can also block traffic and hinder emergency responders and first responders from getting people who need help.

Stay tuned to local media and emergency officials

  • This will be a critical time for information about ongoing threats, conditions, and sources of assistance.

Do not use tap water until you’re told it is safe to do so

  • Water contamination will make you sick, do not use it until officials have tested it and say it is safe for use. If you have low water pressure, refrain from bathing or using the water for any other purpose, water supplies should be reserved for fire fighting. 

If there is no electricity, refrain from using candles

  • That is a fire hazard, with emergency responders already stretched thin, firefighters may not be able to reach you quickly if at all.

Do not grill or operate gasoline-powered machinery indoors, like generators

  • Carbon-monoxide poisoning sickens and/or kills many people long after the storm has passed.

Take lots of pictures

  • You’ll need this for insurance claims, if a federal Presidential Disaster Declaration is made, contact FEMA as soon as you can.

This is the final part of the three part series “Prepared, not scared”.