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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How to Safely Enter and Inspect a Building After a Storm

6/21/2023 (Permalink)

After a storm disaster, it is crucial to approach building inspection with utmost caution and prioritize safety. Whether it's a hurricane, tornado, or severe thunderstorm, the aftermath can leave buildings damaged and potentially hazardous. As disaster restoration experts, we understand the importance of a thorough assessment while ensuring the well-being of everyone involved. In this blog, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to safely enter and inspect a building after a storm disaster.

Step 1: Assess the Surroundings

Before entering the building, carefully evaluate the surroundings for any visible hazards. Look for downed power lines, unstable structures, leaning trees, or other objects that could pose a risk. Keep a safe distance from these hazards and report them to the appropriate authorities or utility companies if necessary.

Step 2: Ensure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential to safeguard yourself during the inspection. Prior to entering the building, ensure you have the following PPE:

  1. a) Hard hat: Protects your head from falling debris or objects.
  2. b) Safety goggles: Shield your eyes from dust, debris, and potential chemical exposure.
  3. c) Gloves: Provide hand protection and enhance grip while handling objects.
  4. d) Dust mask or respirator: Guard against inhaling harmful particles, mold spores, or other contaminants.

Step 3: Turn Off Utilities

Before entering the building, it is crucial to turn off all utilities, including electricity, gas, and water. Damaged electrical systems or leaking gas pipes can pose significant risks. If you're unsure how to shut off utilities, consult with professionals or contact the respective service providers for guidance.

Step 4: Proceed with Caution

Enter the building cautiously, paying close attention to your surroundings. Watch out for weakened structures, sagging ceilings, or unstable floors. Take each step slowly and carefully, using handrails if available. Avoid damaged areas or rooms with visible signs of structural instability.

Step 5: Assess Structural Damage

Once inside, begin the inspection by assessing the structural damage. Look for cracks in walls, ceilings, or foundations. Pay attention to any noticeable shifts or tilts in the building. If you suspect severe structural damage, it is best to evacuate immediately and seek professional assistance.

Step 6: Check for Water Damage

Water damage is a common consequence of storm disasters. Look for signs of water intrusion, such as stains on walls or ceilings, soggy or warped flooring, or a musty odor indicating mold growth. Waterlogged materials should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage and mold infestation.

Step 7: Document the Damage

Take photographs or videos of the damage to document the conditions for insurance claims and restoration purposes. Capture both wide-angle shots and close-ups to provide a comprehensive record. Make detailed notes about the extent of the damage in each area, including specific areas of concern.

Step 8: Exercise Caution with Hazardous Materials

Be mindful of potentially hazardous materials that might have been displaced or exposed during the storm. These could include asbestos, lead-based paint, or chemicals from household or industrial sources. Avoid direct contact and seek professional assistance if you suspect the presence of hazardous materials.

Step 9: Evaluate Electrical Systems

If the electricity has been turned off, avoid turning it back on until a qualified electrician has inspected and certified the safety of the electrical system. Damaged electrical wiring can cause fires or electrical shocks, posing a serious risk.

Safely entering and inspecting a building after a storm disaster requires careful planning, attention to detail, and prioritizing personal safety. By following this step-by-step guide, you can safely conduct a thorough assessment. 

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