After the storm: Dos and Don’ts

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Photo above: Work crews hang a power line over Lady’s Island Boulevard while trying to restore power to beleaguard Lady’s Island. Residents should never touch a downed power line and should try to stay off the roads while crews are working. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Do

• Save receipts if you purchase items such as tarps, plywood or other supplies to make repairs. If you have a covered loss, these repairs may be reimbursed.

• Take pictures of your property and any damage that can be seen.

• Work with your insurance agent or claims adjustor to fully understand the claims process.

• Choose licensed and bonded contractors and request references or contact the Better Business Bureau for assistance in locating a professional contractor in a specific geographic area.

• Do not pay for repairs in full up front and never pay more than half of the cost of repairs up front. Also, consider paying with a credit card or check made out to the business rather than cash.

• For those with a flood-damaged car, contact your agent or insurance company and advise them that your vehicle has been flooded. The sooner the vehicle can be evaluated and dried out, the less damage the vehicle will sustain.

• If you don’t have the right training and personal protective equipment, it’s safer in most cases, to leave the cleaning up to professionals. Some floodwaters contain raw or untreated sewage and other contaminants that may pose serious health hazards during cleanup.

• Be cautious when using a generator. Be sure there are no carbon monoxide emissions. Visit www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/power-outage/safe-generator-use.

• Try to stay off the roads while cleanup crews work.

• Avoid standing water. It can hide dangerous toxins and chemicals.

• Use insect repellant, especially Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellants, which are proven safe and effective when used as directed.

Don’t

• Trust anyone who visits your home without an appointment claiming to represent your insurer. Ask for identification and contact your insurer to confirm.

• Start a flooded vehicle until it has received a thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic.

• Drive on any roads containing standing water. You might not be able to see broken areas of the road or downed power lines.

• Open unrecognizable emails, especially those regarding power outages that ask you to click on links. Cyber security is a concern during a disaster as people try to take advantage of others.

• Touch power lines. Call 911 if you do see a power line down.

• Walk through flooded areas. It only takes 6 inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 for help.

• Donate to charities without knowing who they are. Get more information on a particular charity by visiting the SC Secretary of State’s Office atwww.sos.sc.gov to search on a particular charity or by calling 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484).

• Do not give or send cash to a charity. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check.

Sources: State Farm; Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce; FEMA; South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs