Hurricane Recovery/Safety Tips


Staff member
Food Safety:


* If refrigerated food is left above 40 degrees for two or more hours
or is not cold to the touch, it should be thrown away. This includes
meats, milk, yogurt, eggs, mayonnaise and cram dressings, pastas, and deserts.

*Food items that can be kept for a limited time without refrigeration
include: hard process cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss, Provolone, Romano and
Parmesan); butter and margarine; opened canned fruits and fruit juices;
peanut butter, jellies, jams; mustard and vinegar based dressings; bread
products like rolls, muffins, bagels, waffles; and herbs, spices and raw

* As a rule, an unopened, well functioning freezer half-full will keep
foods safely for up to 24 hours. A fully stocked freezer, unopened can
keep foods safely for 48 hours.

* If frozen food has thawed, do not refreeze. It should be cooked
thoroughly and eaten right away. If food is cooked and not eaten, it
should be refrigerated at 40 degrees or less.

Water Safety:

* Water from public and community water systems should be safe to drink
unless informed otherwise.

* If you have a private well and it has not been damaged or flooded,
you water should be safe to drink. Loss of electricity should not affect
your water quality. If in doubt, get water from a safe source, such as
bottled water, and have your water supply sampled.

* If the well housing on your pump gets flooded, assume that the water
is contaminated. Take precautionary measures to disinfect the well and
pipes and test the water before use.

(NOTE: Potable water is available at fire houses and rescue squads
throughout the County – except Nanjemoy Fire Department (Company 4)
and Bel Alton Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad (Company 10)
during daylight hours. Residents must bring their own containers.)

For more information, call the Charles County Health Department:
Environmental Health, 301-609-6751.

Chain Saw Safety:

* Chain saws can be dangerous. Hold the chain saw firmly with both
hands when the engine is running.

* Cut at high engine speeds (full throttle).

* Use substantial footwear, snug-fitting clothing and eye, hearing and
head protective devices.

* Keep chain correctly sharpened and properly tensioned on guide bar.

* Keep your saw free from dirt, fuel and sawdust build-up.

* Have pre-planned exit paths from falling trees and limbs.

* Watch for “spring-back” of limbs under tension.

* Don’t work alone.

* Guard against kick-back.

* Don’t cut above shoulder height.

* Don’t cut in awkward positions.

* Wait until utility crews have cut off power to downed line(s) before
removing fallen trees or debris.


* To prevent illness, disinfect and dry buildings and items in them.
This will prevent growth of some bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew
that can cause illness.

* Clean walls, floors, and counter surfaces with soap and water.
Disinfect them with a solution of 1 cup bleach to 5 gallons water.

* Wash all clothes and linen in hot water. Air dry and spray with a
disinfectant all unwashable items (for example, mattresses, furniture).
Steam clean carpets. Throw away all items touched by water and cannot be

Repairing Storm Damage to Trees:

* If damage is relatively minor with only the smallest branches of the
tree being injured, all that is required is clean-up of the broken twigs
and branches and perhaps some light pruning to restore a pleasing

* More severe damage consisting of large broken branches, split
crotches and/or removal of bark, and splitting or splintering of the
trunk can occur. Take the time and effort to save a tree only if a
substantial portion of the tree remains intact and if, when repairs are
made, the tree will still be attractive and of value to the property

* When treating the tree, plan which branches must be removed and where
the removal cut should be made. Remove all damaged branches at the
nearest branch, bud or main stem and not in the middle of a branch.

* Branches small than 3-inch diameter can best be removed using a
pruning shears or a pole pruner. Use a sharp saw to remove larger

* Carefully trim away all loose bark back to the area where it is
solidly attached.

* If branches are split apart and the break is nearly even, with
adequate amounts of wood tissue on each portion, it is often possible to
draw the split portions back together and secure them with a large
diameter steel bolt or threaded screw rod placed through the split

* If the fork or main branch cannot be pulled together, remove it.

* If a large tree is uprooted, it cannot be saved and therefore must be
removed. For some smaller trees (25 feet or less in height), it may be
possible to straighten the tree and brace it using guy wires or cables.

Flooded Lawns:

* Wash as much silt as possible from the lawn using a garden hose.

* Use a steel tooth garden rake, a mechanical aerator or spiking
equipment to break up the silt crust. Keep it broken throughout the
growing season or until grass has become well established.

* If lawn recovery is spotty or generally thin, mechanically aerate the
lawn four to six times in late summer or early spring. Then overseed
with a desirable permanent seed mixture.

Recommended species for Maryland and other information on the care and maintenance of trees can be obtained by calling 301-934-5403.