Checklist: Inside the home

Protect your family, home

  • Don't call police, emergency or utility officials unless you have a life-threatening emergency.
  • If you must call loved ones, be brief to keep lines free.
  • Use cell phones sparingly. They may be the only working phones, and a limited number of cells will be operating.
  • Expect to redial several times before completing a cell call. If you find regular phone service is unsatisfactory, try your cell phone's text messaging or walkie-talkie features.
  • Keep children away from debris or dangerous areas.
  • Plan to wear old clothes you don't mind throwing away. They might well be stained or torn during cleanup.
  • Wear sturdy shoes, such as construction boots, if you have them. NEVER walk barefoot! The ground likely will be littered with broken glass and other sharp debris.
  • Watch your step. You easily can twist an ankle, or worse, and medical help likely won't be easily available.
  • Wash hands regularly and treat injuries promptly. Wear construction gloves if available. You'll be handling dirty and perhaps contaminated or even toxic materials.
  • Keep a flashlight handy. Even during the day you might be in dark spots.


  • If water remains in your house, try to rent or borrow a pump or bail by hand. Then shovel out mud, sand or silt. Disinfect floors.
  • Make only temporary repairs. Take photos of the damage before any repairs.
  • Hose off wet upholstered furniture to remove dirt. If plaster or plasterboard walls are wet, do not rub them. Let them dry, then brush off dirt and wash walls with a mild soap solution.
  • Wipe iron and steel furniture with a kerosene-soaked cloth to ward off rust.
  • Don't throw out damaged papers or art. Professionals might be able to restore them.