American Red Cross Urges Caution as Louisiana Residents Begin to Return Home

American Red Cross
Sunday, 18 September 2005

This opportunity for families to assess their property damage is not a permanent move.

As the floodwaters recede, some Louisiana residents are being allowed to visit their homes to assess the damage and collect any salvageable items starting this week.

As these residents return home, safety is the primary concern. The American Red Cross encourages residents to follow all public safety and law enforcement directives.

Tips for Post-Hurricane Safety:

  • Perimeter Check – Check the home by walking around outside before entering. Proceed with caution. Check for loose power lines or gas leaks from the outside first and report them. If there are cracks around the foundation, call a home construction professional to inspect the home.

  • As you enter your home – Check for sagging ceilings, weak floors and other structural damage.

  • Check for gas – Use a flashlight. Do not use an open flame, candles or lighter to illuminate the internal environment. If you smell gas, leave your home immediately and call the fire department or utility company.

  • Electricity – Turn off the power or circuit breaker with a dry stick to prevent shock while inspecting for damage. You need to remain in control and decide when it is safe to restore electrical service. Wait until appliances are dry before turning them back on.

  • Listen to news – A portable radio can help you stay on top of the news. Instructions from public utilities will be posted on-the-air.

  • Sewer & Water – If the sewers have overflowed or water contaminated, do not run the water faucet or flush the toilets. Assume that anything touched by floodwaters is contaminated. Wash hands frequently. Disinfect everything floodwaters have touched.

  • You can get more information about repairing your flooded home at

Food Safety:

  • If the power was out for longer than two days, all food in the refrigerator has spoiled. Discard all food from the refrigerator and any food, cans or capped bottles that have been covered by floodwater. Food in the freezer that still has ice on it may be usable, but if it has thawed or reached a temperature above 40 degrees, it should also be discarded.

  • Get more information on food safety during a power outage at

Water Safety:

  • Drink plenty of water – about eight glasses per day.

  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks– it can dehydrate and make a person thirstier.

  • Drink bottled water until you know that the water supply is safe. If you run out, drink water from melted ice or even from the water heater once it has cooled, unless it was covered with floodwater.

  • You may use water stored in a bath tub for cleaning or flushing the toilet, but not for drinking or cooking.

  • For more information on water treatment, visit

If you live in the affected area and would like further information on returning home after a flood or general hurricane preparedness information, visit

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 this disaster and thousands of other disasters across the country each year 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 those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). 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

For more information, or to contact American Red Cross, see their website at:

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