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Post-Hurricane Sandy Safety Tips

The Family Handyman has compiled a list of tips to remember in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Though Hurricane Sandy has passed, downed live wires are still present and hazardous water may be standing, so the folks at The Family Handyman have compiled a list of tips to avoid danger:

- Check on your backup water supply: A water heater holds enough drinking and cooking water to last several days. Let the water cool for a few hours before you open the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.

- Watch out for electricity: A cord on the floor could electrify even a shallow puddle, so stay away from standing water in the home until the power is shut off. The same goes for clearing debris away, as downed power lines can send electrical currents through tree branches and metal fences. According to the Family Handyman, if you can't reach the circuit breaker box, call an electrician or your utility to cut the power to your home.

- Don’t get sick: Flash flood water can contain toxic chemicals and bacteria, so when handling possessions that are wet, wear plastic gloves.

- Emergency toilet flush: If your water supply is off, create an emergency toilet flush by pouring about three gallons of water into the toilet bowl (not the tank) to flush waste away.

- Homeowner's insurance tip: If the damage to your home isn't covered by your homeowner's insurance, don't report it to your insurance company. The report may still go on your insurance record and look like a claim when you shop for new insurance in the future, says the Family Handyman.

- Watch out for frozen water pipes: To avoid burst pipes, turn off the main water valve and drain the pipes by turning on the faucets to let out the remaining water. Use a plunger to drive water out of the toilets and drain traps.

- Avoid Carbon Monoxide: Don't use generators, charcoal grills or propane camping stoves indoors, and check that the CO detectors are working. The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble those of the flu. If the alarm sounds and anyone is experiencing headaches, dizziness, fatigue or vomiting, get everyone out of the house and call 911. If the alarm goes off and no one is reporting sick feeling, open all doors and windows anyway to thoroughly ventilate the house. Turn off all potential sources of CO – your oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas range and oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater. Have a technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they're operating correctly and that there's nothing blocking the vents that let fumes out of the house.

- Reduce damages: For roof damage larger than a shingle or two, the fastest bandage is a plastic tarp. Secure a tarp over the damaged area with 2x4s or lath nailed to the roof. If possible, secure the tarp over the roof ridge; it's difficult to make the tarp waterproof at the upper end.

- Work together: Reach out to neighbors, and pool resources like food. Eating meals collectively will reduce the amount of food that spoils (use fresh foods first) and will conserve cooking fuel.

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