ALWAYS CALL 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.
EPA information for protecting health and the environment:
- Prepare for a hurricane - things you can do to get ready to minimize health or environmental dangers or expected problems.
- Recover from a hurricane - safety with generators, flooding, mold cleanup, managing debris, and more, for homes, schools, and facilities
- Current storm forecast from NOAA
Information about EPA's response:
Prepare for a hurricane
See also: Flooding
Make any preparations that can minimize injury and property damage. Households, utilities, and businesses should plan for disaster before hurricane season starts, or make any possible preparations when a hurricane is predicted.
- Make a kit of supplies. Keep at least a 3-day water supply per person and for pets, too. What you can do to protect your household well.
Water and wastewater systems
- Activities to help water facilities plan for emergencies and natural disasters.
- Water resiliency planning tools for communities.
Planning for disaster debris:
Damage from a hurricane depends on the size, extent, and other factors. Damage debris can include destroyed structures, hazardous waste, green waste, or personal property. More about disaster debris planning
This guide highlights the need for communities to plan ahead for debris cleanup after a major natural or man-made disaster, plus case studies. Read a printable version.
Chemical or fertilizer storage:
Properly designed or modified storage facilities enhance worker safety and minimize the risk contamination.
Summary of regulatory requirements related to shutdown operations - For complex industrial processes, shutdown operations require special care beyond normal operations. Facility owners and operators are required to minimize chemical releases during process shutdown operations; and if reportable releases occur, they must be reported immediately upon constructive knowledge of occurrence. Read more about applicable regulations: Reminder to minimize process shutdown-related releases and report releases in a timely manner.
Recover after a hurricane
ALERT: Generator exhaust is toxic. Always put generators outside well away from doors, windows, and vents. Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas. Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly, can build up quickly, and linger for hours. More information.
See also: Flooding
Report suspected spills, contamination or possible violations.
- To report oil,chemical, or hazardous substance releases or spills, call the National Response Center 800-424-8802.
- Report a suspected environmental violation on EPA's reporting page.
- Limit contact with flood water. Flood water may have high levels of raw sewage or other hazardous substances. Early symptoms from exposure to contaminated flood water may include upset stomach, intestinal problems, headache and other flu-like discomfort. Anyone experiencing these and any other problems should immediately seek medical attention.
- What do I do about water from household wells after a flood? Do not turn on the pump due to danger of electric shock. Do not drink or wash with water from the flooded well until it is tested and safe to use. Read more about household wells.
- What do I do with my home septic system after a flood? Do not use the sewage system until water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house. If you have a home-based or small business and your septic system has received chemicals, take extra precautions to prevent contact with water or inhaling fumes. Proper clean-up depends on the kinds of chemicals in the wastewater. Read more
- Mold cleanup: Mold can cause serious health problems. The key to mold control is moisture control. After the flood, remove standing water and dry indoor areas. Remove and discard anything that has been wet for more than 24-48 hours.
- Mold cleanup in schools and commercial buildings. Information for building managers, custodians, and others who are responsible for commercial building and school maintenance.
- Basic mold hazards. Cleaning up mold. What to wear
- More about mold from Centers for Disease Control
- To kill all major water-borne bacterial pathogens, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute. Boil 3 minutes at elevations above 5280 ft (1 mile or 1.6 km). More information about emergency disinfection of drinking water.
- Drinking Water Emergency/Incident Information
Home or facilities wastewater
Pesticides, chemical and oil spills, hazardous waste:
- Call the National Response Center 1-800-424-8802 (24 hours a day every day). For those without 800 access, please call 202-267-2675.
- Industries and businesses that encounter spills or discharges in the aftermath should contact the National Response Center immediately. You or your organization may have legal requirements for reporting or for taking other actions, depending on the spill.
- National Pesticide Information Center: 1-800-858-7378. Pesticide contacts
- Report spills or environmental violations
Disasters can generate tons of debris, including building rubble, soil and sediments, green waste (e.g.., trees and shrubs), personal property, ash, and charred wood. How a community manages disaster debris depends on the debris generated and the waste management options available. Burying or burning is no longer acceptable, except when permission or a waiver has been granted, because of the side effects of smoke and fire from burning, and potential water and soil contamination from burial. Typical methods of recycling and solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills often cannot be applied to disaster debris because of the large volume of waste and reluctance to overburden existing disposal capacity.
- Managing Debris After a Natural Disaster - a fact sheet with guidelines to help make for a speedier removal process.
- General information on disaster debris - planning for and management of debris is an essential but often overlooked component of an emergency response or disaster incident.
Renovation and rebuilding
Lead-safe work: By law, contractors need to use lead-safe work practices on emergency renovations on homes or buildings built before 1978. Activities such as sanding, cutting, and demolition can create lead-based paint hazards. Lead-contaminated dust is harmful to adults, particularly pregnant women, and children.
- Important information about post-disaster renovations and lead-based paint
- Ways to protect against lead-based paint hazards
Asbestos: Anyone working on demolition, removal, and cleanup of building debris needs be aware of any asbestos and to handle asbestos materials properly. People exposed to asbestos dust can develop serious lung health problems including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Although the use of asbestos has dramatically decreased in recent years, it is still found in many residential and commercial buildings and can pose a serious health risk.
- More about the dangers of exposure to asbestos
- Asbestos Standard for the Construction Industry, from OSHA