Release: Baton Rouge, LA 9.17.08

American Red Cross Urges Residents to use Caution After Hurricane Landfall

Dangers Exist Even After Storm Passes

[BATON ROUGE], LA, September 17, 2008 – There are still as many as 13 Red Cross shelters open throughout Louisiana for a safe place to stay and access to food. For more information on sheltering, call 1-866-GET-INFO (438-4636).

After a hurricane, when local authorities determine it is safe to return to areas impacted by the hurricanes, the American Red Cross urges residents to use caution. Carbon monoxide poisoning, injuries from debris and downed power lines, food and water safety, and emotional support should all be top concerns for you and your loved ones.

In the aftermath of a hurricane:
• Stay tuned to local radio or television for recovery information.
• Listen to the advice of local authorities.
• Help injured or trapped persons. Check the scene for safety and call for help. Give appropriate first aid if you are trained. Don’t move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury or you have to move them to provide care.
• Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
• Use telephone only for emergency calls. Keep phone lines open.

Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to do so and:
• Wear protective shoes, long pants, long sleeve shirts and gloves to protect you from sharp edges and other hazards.
• Avoid loose or dangling power lines, reporting them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
• Before entering, check the outside of your home for damage such as cracks in the foundation or broken utilities that make it too dangerous to enter.
• Enter your home with caution. Look for sagging in the ceiling that may indicate water trapped there. Check for loose flooring.
• Smell for gas. If you detect a natural gas or propane odor or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department or utility company.
• Avoid using sinks, showers and toilets if you suspect sewage lines are damaged.
• Beware of snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by floodwater.
• Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
• Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to floodwaters and mud, including canned goods, capped bottles and sealed containers. When in doubt, throw it out.
• Take pictures of the damage to the house and its contents for insurance claims.

Power outage safety tips
• Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
• Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out.
• Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.
• Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.
• If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system.
• Listen to local radio and television for updated information.
• People can download a generator fact sheet in both English and Spanish here:,1082,0_565_,00.html

If concerned about missing family/friends:
• Contact your out-of-area emergency contact to check if family member has made contact with them
• Check the Safe and Well Web site, accessible via This public site enables people within a disaster area to select and post standard messages for friends and family that indicate they are at a shelter, home or hotel, and will make contact when they are able.

The Red Cross encourages everyone to get “Red Cross Ready” for a variety of disasters, such as hurricanes, by taking three basic preparedness actions: 1) Get a kit, 2) Make a plan and 3) Be informed. For more information, visit or contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Additional Information:

  • Media Contact: Local Red Cross Public Affairs Desk – (571) 918-5223

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