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Introduction

Once a disaster happens, you will face many unanticipated situations. Below are steps you may go through as you work to review your situation, begin recovery and clean up efforts, and consider financial assistance options.

It is human nature to want to survey damage as soon as possible, but avoid the urge to rush in to salvage building contents, or to take risks to further protect your property.

  • Do not ignore civil authorities' warnings to stay out of restricted areas.    
  • Pay attention to announcements by local and government officials.    
  • Obey boil-water orders.

Even if you sustain very little damage, getting to your location may be dangerous. When you receive permission to enter a disaster area, wear hard-soled shoes and watch where you step. Storms dislodge nails, pieces of metal and other construction materials. Roof members, flooring, decking, steps and walls may look intact when they are structurally unsound. There may be hidden electrical hazards.

  • First Steps    
  • Inventory and Insurance    
  • Staffing Issues    
  • Clean-up    
  • Financial Assistance

Danger

  • Do not use matches, lighters or other sources of flame after a storm.   
  • Damaged gas lines, leaking fuel containers and tanks may explode or ignite.    
  • Assume all wires on the ground—including cable TV feeds—are electrically charged.    
  • Debris can mask danger. Storm trash can ignite if electrical lines are severed underneath.    
  • Standing water and some appliances can be electrically charged after severe storms.

First Steps

  • Communicate with Staff and Others    
  • Visually Survey the Area First    
  • Remove Critical Items

Communicate with Staff and Others

Your staff needs to know what is expected of them and you need to know what their personal situation is. Advise necessary officials of the status of your situation, even if you have escaped harm. Refer to the Telephone Contact List.

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Visually Survey the Area First

Make certain there are no electrical, chemical or other hazards on site. Report any downed power lines or gas leaks to local authorities as soon as possible. Watch out for flammable liquids that may have spilled.

Place barriers around unsafe areas.

Make temporary repairs. Fasten a tarp over holes in the roof and secure open window areas.

Assess the damage to the building's interior. Refer to your original inspections for before-and-after comparisons.

Examine X-ray equipment and other mechanical and electrical equipment. Do not operate anything until qualified service personnel have inspected it. Professionals should make certain all radiological shielding is still in place, but if you discover, or even suspect, an emergency, immediately contact your State's Department of Health's 24-hour radiological emergency hotline.

If dental records, computers and/or X-ray machines in your office have been damaged, contact the Department of Health.

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Remove Critical Items

Secure assistance in removing or mitigating immediate hazards. If there are critical items or records that would be at risk of further damage if they remain in place, move them to a designated, safe place. Take steps to protect what is left as soon as possible.

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Thank you to the Florida Dental Association and Florida Dental Health Foundation for providing significant contributions to this content, which were funded in part from the American Dental Association Foundation.