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When To Return
If you evacuated, delay return until authorized or recommended by local authorities. Telephone services within the evacuation zone may be overloaded or non-existent for an extended period of time. Listen to radio or television for information concerning returning to your home. Keep in mind that local emergency authorities will be addressing life and safety concerns on a priority basis, as well as trying to clear debris from roadways. There most likely will be electrical power lines down, extensive flooding of roads and other situations that may not allow safe immediate return to your home. It takes time for governmental, emergency and public utility authorities to clear the way for your safe return.

Beware of Outdoor Hazards
Watch out for loose or dangling power lines. Many lives are lost by electrocution! Treat all downed lines as live wires and do not touch them. Report the fallen power lines to your local power company or police. Stay inside your car if a wire is touching it, and wait for help to arrive.

Walk or Drive Cautiously
Debris-filled streets are dangerous. Use hard-soled shoes. Poisonous snakes and rodents may be a hazard. Washouts may weaken road and bridge structures that may collapse under vehicle weight.

Loss of Electric Power
If you and others have lost power, call Virginia Power using the emergency or "Lights Out" number found in the white pages of your phone book (1-888-667-3000). Give your name, address and the general area of the outage. If the line is busy, try again later. A busy signal means others are also reporting outages.Disconnect or turn off any major appliance like stoves, televisions, air conditioners and water heaters that could come on suddenly when power is restored. This will help prevent blowing fuses, tripping circuit breakers and fires. Leave a light on so you will know when power is restored. Use a battery-powered radio to obtain up-to-date information on the outage. Consult a professional electrician or your local power company regarding the proper and safe use of generators before the disaster strikes.

Telephone & Cellular Phone Communications
Make only emergency telephone calls. Keep all calls brief. Report emergencies to 911. Identify yourself and your location. Speak clearly and calmly. Be respectful of the fact that emergency agencies and others involved with life or death emergencies will need to use these communication systems. When using a cellular phone, call the local non-emergency number listed in the telephone directory. Telephone and cellular phone services will either fail or become overloaded during a major emergency or disaster. Be prepared not to have services available. Cordless phones depend upon electricity; make sure you have at least one non cordless phone to use if phone lines are working during a power outage.

Guard Against Spoiled Food
Food may spoil if refrigerator power is off for more than a few hours. Freezers will keep food for several days, if doors are not opened after power failure. Do not refreeze food once it begins to thaw.

Do Not Use Water Until Safe
Use your emergency supply or boil water before drinking until officials advise that the water is safe. Check with your local health department or emergency management agency regarding water purification procedures. Report broken water or sewer mains to proper authorities.

Take Extra Precautions to Prevent Fire
Avoid using candles as a light source. Unsafe use of candles can cause tragic fires. Instead use flashlights or lanterns. Fire safety practices are essential to prevent deaths, injuries or more property losses. Keep in mind that you may not have a telephone to call the emergency services if a fire does start.

Take Steps to Protect Property
Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage or looting. Use only reputable contractors (sometimes in the chaotic days following a disaster, unscrupulous operators will prey on the unsuspecting); check with the Better Business Bureau. Keep all receipts for materials used. If you observe looting or unscrupulous activities, advise law enforcement.

Source: Hampton Roads Emergency Management Committee

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