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Safety Tips for Returning Home and Cleaning Up After Hurricane Sandy

The NYPD and federal emergency management officials have provided some safety tips on how to inspect and clean your home.

The city Police Department’s Office of Community Affairs has put together a list of safety tips for residents who are returning home after Hurricane Sandy, cleaning up debris or making repairs.

The NYPD suggests putting together a cleanup kit that includes rubber gloves, cleaning products, bleach, sponges, goggles, spatula, cleanup suits, rubber boots, odor-control products, trash bags, hydrogen peroxide, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointments and work towels.

Here are the safety tips, which were provided to the NYPD by state and federal emergency management officials.

1. Before entering a building, be sure to check for downed or loose power lines and gas leaks, which will smell like rotten eggs. If you think there is a leak, call Con Edison immediately. If you see a downed power line, move away from it and do not try to touch with any other object, such as a broom. Do not drive over a downed line.

Also, look for external damage by examining your home’s foundation, roof and chimney for cracks. Inspect porch roofs and overhangs. If you find damage, contact a building inspector before you enter the house.

If the door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling is ready to cave in. If you force it open, stand outside to avoid being hit by falling debris. If the ceiling is sagging, leave the building immediately.

2. After entering a building, double check for gas leaks. Return to your home during daylight to avoid turning on lights. Do not light candles or cigarettes until you are sure it is safe.

If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from outside if possible. Call your gas company from a neighbor’s home or from a cell phone away from the building.

You may want to have an electrician check your wiring. Do not turn on the lights if you feel unsure whether they are safe to use.

Check your water and sewage systems. If pipes appear damaged, turn off the main water valve.

3. When you begin cleaning up, wear protective clothing. If you have cuts on your hands or other body parts, protect them from contact with water or debris. Try to wear face filtering masks and gloves when cleaning.

4. To apply for disaster assistance, call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. This number is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Assistance can include rental payments for temporary housing while homes are unlivable, unemployment payments for those who lost jobs due to the disaster, low interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance, loans up to $2 million for small businesses, grants for home repairs and replacement of household items and grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral and transportation needs.

To register for assistance, you will need to provide your Social Security number, insurance and financial information, contact information and electronic funds transfer information, if applicable.

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