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 Hurricane Aftermath

What to do now that the storm has passed:

Use a flashlight for indoor lighting; don't use candles.

Check all phones in your home for a dial tone.

Do not operate a generator or grill indoors.

Now that the storm is over

Do these things first:

Open all doors and windows so noxious smells and gases can escape.

Don't smoke indoors until everything has dried.

Check for gas leaks.

Don't use candles.

When you go outdoors, watch for power lines. Assume they are live; they can kill.

If your home is open to the elements or you fear it will collapse, don't stay. Secure it as best you can, get as many valuables out as possible and find another place.

If you leave your home, leave a phone number where you can be reached; spray-paint it on a piece of wood or on the side of the house. Also paint your exact address and your insurance company for adjusters cruising neighborhoods. Don't write your policy number; that's an invitation to con artists.

If necessary, use water from the bathtub to flush the toilet. Pour some bleach in the bowl after each use.

Do not use electrical appliances until they're dry. Replace any gas control valves, electric circuit breakers, ground-fault interrupters and fuses that have been in water.

If water remains in your house, try to rent or borrow a pump, or bail by hand. Then shovel out mud, sand or silt. Take soaked rugs and carpets outside to dry (you'll still probably have to throw them away) and disinfect floors.

Getting help

Are shelters still open in Palm Beach County?

Yes, but the number is being reduced. Beginning today, shelters will be open at Bear Lakes Middle School in West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach High School, Discovery Elementary School in suburban Lake Worth, Lake Shore Middle School in Belle Glade, Palm Beach Central High in suburban West Palm Beach, and West Boca Raton High.

Where can people find food and water if they run out and stores are still closed?

Go to the shelters. Also, the local Red Cross chapter will send out mass-feeding trucks to neighborhoods identified as without accessible food and water. The Red Cross has two trucks in the area and is asking their national organization to make available another 30 trucks.

What if I'm not near any shelter?

The Red Cross plans to open assistance centers in schools and community centers, depending on the need. Those locations should be announced in the next couple of days.

What kind of food is available?

Mostly sandwiches, but some meals such as lasagna and chili are also served.

What about ice?

The United Way of Palm Beach County is working with federal officials to determine the need for ice, water, meal rations and other emergency items, such as tarps to cover leaky roofs. Because roof damage in Palm Beach County was limited, the tarps may be reserved for counties hit hardest by Hurricane Frances.

Who can help me with emergency repairs on my home?

The Red Cross has some emergency relief, limited to $500, for quick repairs. It also provides other aid, such as medicine and eyeglasses. If you have an emergency, call the Red Cross response center at (866) GETINFO (438-4636).

Who can help if I can't locate a missing family member?

The Red Cross at (800) HELPNOW (435-7669). The number can also be used to make donations to the Red Cross.

Food and water

How can I make safe drinking water?

Boil water vigorously for at least a minute. If you're unable to boil water, add six to eight drops of household bleach per gallon of water. Mix well and let it sit for 30 minutes before you drink it. Water should have a slight chlorine smell; if it doesn't, repeat dose and let stand another 15 minutes. In a dire jam, you can use water from a water heater. Turn off the power and open the spigot at the bottom. Don't reconnect until you're told water supply is safe.

Should I try to save my bottled drinking water?

No. Drink your water as you normally would. Stay hydrated, stay healthy. More water will be available later.

Can I use my tap water to wash my hands even if there is a boil-water order in effect?

It's safe for showering and washing hands. It is unsafe to ingest in any way, such as brushing teeth or drinking. Also, do not wash dishes with it.

Can I give my animal water out of the tap if there is a boil-water order in effect?

No, it will make your animal sick.


How do I know when to throw out food that was refrigerated or frozen?

The rule of thumb is that most perishable refrigerated foods held above 40 degrees for more than two hours must be discarded. If you don't have a thermometer, follow these general rules of thumb:

A full freezer rarely opened will hold its temperature for up to 48 hours. A half-full freezer will hold its temperature safely for 24 hours. If once-frozen foods have thawed completely, grill them immediately. But remember that even cooked meat must stay cold and is good for only three to four days under refrigeration.

A refrigerator will only keep its temperature for about four hours. The only items that still might keep beyond that are: butter, margarine, hard and processed cheese, opened fruit juice, opened canned fruit, fresh fruit, raw mushrooms, bread, rolls, cake, muffins, quick bread, vinaigrette dressing, jelly, relish, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup and olives.

If in doubt, throw it out. Food that smells fine may still contain bacteria. It's better to be hungry than sick.

What about food that has been flooded?

The only thing salvageable is canned goods. The cans must be washed thoroughly before opening.

When will food stores reopen?

Late Sunday, Publix officials had not determined whether they would reopen stores Monday. A spokeswoman said the stores do have generators and can operate on a limited basis without power. Delivery trucks, though, could not get on the road until winds died down to less than 39 mph. Winn-Dixie and Albertsons could not be reached for comment.

How can I help keep food cold in my ice chest?

If only partially filled with ice, stuff the remaining space in the cooler with newspaper to trap in the cold.

How can I cook food without power? Use a charcoal or gas grill, or a camping stove. But do not use indoors because of the risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not use them either in open garages or porches. Use them only outdoors.

Other information


How do I report a downed power line?

Call Florida Power & Light at (800) 4OUTAGE (468-8243).


A curfew is in effect until 6 a.m. today in unincorporated Palm Beach County and is expected to resume tonight at 8. Eighteen cities also have curfews. They are Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Hypoluxo, Lake Clarke Shores, Lake Worth, Lantana, Manalapan, Jupiter, North Palm Beach, Pahokee, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach Shores, Palm Springs, South Palm Beach, Tequesta, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton's barrier islands. Pahokee, Palm Beach and South Palm Beach have 24-hour curfews. Curfews in other cities generally are from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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