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Stay Smart to Stay Safe Before, During and After Flooding
American Red Cross Offers Safety Tips

 
Date: June 29, 2006
Contact: Diane Concannon, Public Relations Director 609.951.2116; (cell) 609.206.4043
concannond@njredcross.org

Editor’s note: American Red Cross of Central New Jersey Health & Safety Services Director Kathleen Pearson can provide more information on flood safety. To schedule an interview, contact Diane Concannon at 908-256-6411 or concannond@njredcross.org.

PRINCETON, NJ, June 29, 2006 – The American Red Cross continues to provide shelter and food for families forced from their homes due to extensive flooding around the Northeast. 91 Red Cross shelters are open in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Red Cross will be there to support the immediate emergency needs of individuals and families as the potential for flash flooding continues, and will stay the course to help people recover from this disaster as quickly as possible. Anyone in need of Red Cross services is urged to call their local chapter.

“The American Red Cross will always be there for people whenever and wherever disaster strikes. But, since we are not a government agency, we depend on the voluntary contributions and giving of the American people to help us do our work,” stated Kevin Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of Central New Jersey.

Affected Red Cross chapters are reaching out to their donors and communities and asking for contributions to help provide the assistance needed. People interested in making a financial contribution can do so by contacting their local chapter or calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

The greatest potential for accident or injury may occur after the rain has stopped. Learning the smart approaches to flood safety can help you to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible. This includes seeking necessary medical care at the nearest hospital or clinic if needed. Contaminated flood waters may lead to a greater possibility of infection, while severe injuries will require medical attention. It is vital to continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or television stations and return home only when authorities indicate it is safe to do so. Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede; there may be flood-related hazards within the community, which are important to know.

What to Do After a Flood or Flash Flood

  • Stay out of any building if flood waters remain around the building. Flood waters often undermine foundations, causing sinking, floors can crack or break and buildings can collapse.
  • Avoid entering ANY building (home, business, or other) before local officials have said it is safe to do so. Buildings may have hidden damage that makes them unsafe. Gas leaks or electric or waterline damage can create additional problems.
  • Report broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned off as quickly as possible, preventing further hazard and injury. Check with your utility company now about where broken lines should be reported.
  • Avoid smoking inside buildings. Smoking in confined areas can cause fires.
  • When entering buildings, use extreme caution. Building damage may have occurred where you least expect it. Watch carefully every step you take.
  • Wear sturdy shoes. The most common injury following a disaster is cut feet.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. Battery-powered lighting is the safest and easiest, preventing fire hazard for the user, occupants, and building.
  • Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases, and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage. Cracks and damage to a foundation can render a building uninhabitable.
  • Look for fire hazards. There may be broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces or electrical appliances. Flammable or explosive materials may travel from upstream. Fire is the most frequent hazard following floods.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice. Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
  • Check for sewage and waterline damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heaters or by melting ice cubes.
  • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come into buildings with the flood waters. Use a stick to poke through debris. Flood waters flush snakes and many animals out of their homes.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like flooding in New Jersey, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS. Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

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