The Miami Herald

After a hurricane

• If you evacuated, return home when local officials tell you it is safe. Officials on the scene are your best source of information on accessible areas and passable roads.

• Venture outdoors carefully. Power lines are likely to be down; be careful where you step. Keep your pets inside as much as possible.

• Help a neighbor who may require special assistance -- infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.

• Stay away from disaster areas; don't sight-see.

• Do not drive through a flooded area. Approach every intersection as a four-way stop. Avoid weakened bridges and washed-out roads.

• If possible, let friends, relatives and your employer know you are safe.

• Keep all calls, land-line and wireless, to a minimum to allow emergency calls to get through. If you hear a fast busy signal, phone use may be at capacity. The Web may also be affected.

• Find out if your water supply is safe.

• Watch out for wildlife and insects that have been driven to higher ground.

• Local, state and federal agencies will respond as quickly as possible, but count on being self-sufficient for at least three days.

• If you do not have the supplies you need, go to a relief site as quickly as possible. Public, private and volunteer agencies may be able to get you water, food, medical attention and shelter.

• Monitor local media for vital information such as recovery facilities, insurance company field offices and shelter if you need it.

• Keep all receipts for items you buy before power is restored. Your insurance or governmental assistance may cover some expenses.

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