Safety Tips for Returning Home After Hurricane Matthew

While most understand the importance of safety before and during a hurricane, it is equally critical when returning home after an evacuation. Below are some rules to follow to keep you, your family and your property safe once the storm has passed.

  • Wait until an area is declared safe before returning home. Alerts can be seen on local news websites, TV, radio and social media. Beaufort County residents are asked to call 800.963.5023 before attempting re-entry.
  • Check your property for any loose or fallen power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts, get your home inspected first by a trained professional before entering. Helpful tips and outage information can be found on SCE&G, Georgia Power, and Palmetto Electric
  • Refrain from turning on the electrical appliances until you’re certain it is safe to do so. In the case of a gas leak, a spark caused by an electrical appliance could ignite it.
  • Use flashlights to navigate through any debris, and keep a battery-powered radio to listen for emergency announcements and updates.
  • Contact emergency responders only in the event of life-threatening situations. Resources are thin at a time like this and need to be prioritized for critical situations.
  • Don’t enter your home if you smell gas, or if flood waters remain around the building.
  • If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker before unplugging those appliances so they can dry out. Before turning the power back on, have your system checked by an electrician to ensure it is safe. This applies as well if you see broken or frayed wires.
  • Take pictures of your property where damage has occurred and contact your insurance agent. It’s important to keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
  • You may encounter wild animals when returning home such as alligators, snakes, opossums and raccoons. Do not approach these or try to capture them. Call for professional assistance to handle the situation, as they can pose serious health risks.
  • Stay hydrated. In times of stress, not only are you are more likely to forget to drink and eat well, you are actually more likely to become dehydrated, which leads to even greater stress on your body.
  • Take provisions, a first aid kit, and your bug spray. A good checklist can be found here.


  • For particularly young children, limit media exposure regarding the hurricane and talk with them when they do get exposed to difficult, sometimes scary situations.
  • If possible, return to home in stages. Keep children away until you’re certain it is safe and that basic utilities like electricity, gas and water are functioning.
  • Involve children in the recovery and cleanup with age-appropriate tasks. This can create a sense of purpose and control over the situation, and can also lead to more dialogue about what has happened.