Oct. 11--SANFORD -- With residents of Lee County and the surrounding area recovering after Hurricane Matthew swept through the area, numerous emergency and government agencies have been advising the public on how to deal with the results of the storm.
Here are a few more key points to remember as you assess damage.
If you're returning home, be aware of dangers in the form of power lines and debris.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said residents should listen to their local and state government officials regarding potential dangers left by the storm. Do not enter a flood-damaged home or building until you're given the all clear by authorities. Mold can be a serious health risk, so remove flood-damaged objects if there are any.
Be especially careful when driving in and around flooded areas and follow instructions from local authorities.
Do not drive through flood waters for any reason whatsoever. Just two feet of moving water can sweep away a vehicle. Do not move barricades or barriers set up by local emergency management agencies and officials. Most deaths in flash flooding occur in automobiles. Be especially cautious at night when it's harder to recognize the dangers of floods and flash floods.
Practice chain saw safety during clean-up around your house and driveway.
Before starting a chain saw, make sure each part of the tool is working properly. Drop starting a saw is never safe -- make sure you start cutting with the chain on the ground or another solid support. Before you begin cutting, clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the chain saw's path. Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or even terrain. Watch for branches under tension, as they may spring out when cut.
Follow food safety recommendations like keeping fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible, among other things.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following precautions to keep food fresh during a power outage: Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep in the cool air. Put a block of ice in refrigerator(s) if power is expected to be out for more than four hours to keep food cool longer. Wear heavy gloves when handling the ice. Even if partially thawed, it is safe to cook or refreeze frozen food as long there are visible ice crystals or if the food is 40 degrees or colder. A fully-stocked freezer without power can keep food safe for 48 hours, while a half-full freezer can preserve food for 24 hours.
There might be scammers posing as utility workers, insurance adjusters or even FEMA officials offering assistance, according to N.C. attorney general Roy Cooper.
Cooper urged citizens Monday to contact their insurance or utility companies directly. State and federal agencies will not charge you money to apply for relief. If anyone comes up to your door claiming to be from an agency or company, ask for their identification. If you're approached by a possible scammer, report it to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (1-877-566-7226).
Be wary and do your homework to get quality repairs for a fair price.
There might be people who come offering to do repairs and ask for payment up front, Cooper said. They could be scammers. Don't pay for repairs before the work is done. Avoid doing business with anyone who knocks on your door offering repairs. Always contact your insurance company before getting repairs done. Remember that FEMA does not certify, endorse or approve contractors. Call the hotline listed in the previous point to report such activity.
Beware of mosquitos.
Mosquitos may be a problem in the coming days for areas affected by flooding, according to the CDC. Use insect repellant, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and take precautions to keep mosquitos away in and out of your home. Use screens on windows and doors, use your air conditioning and scrub items that hold water to prevent mosquito eggs from laying. Prevention is important because mosquitos carry diseases and can spread illness.
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