· Be extremely careful going into a home that is only partially standing or into a damaged home where electrical service is still operating. You may decide that your home needs to be inspected by a professional before anyone actually enters.
· Always wear protective clothing on your arms, legs, feet and hands during cleanup. This includes sturdy boots and gloves.
· Don’t return to a damaged home at night. Authorities usually set a curfew, even for homeowners, because trying to do cleanup at night can be much more hazardous than during the daytime.
· Keep young children away from tornado-damaged areas, at least until you have initially gauged how safe your home is. If children are with you during the cleanup, never leave them unattended or allow them to play in the debris.
· Use flashlights inside a damaged home without electricity. Lanterns, candles or other flame-based lights can multiply hazards when used in a heavily damaged area.
· Make sure that the gas supply is turned off at the main valve in your home. If possible, also turn off all electrical power to your house from the main fuse box or circuit breaker even if you do not have electricity, since it could be restored at any time and damaged wiring could cause extreme hazards.
· Watch out for displaced animals, especially poisonous snakes in more rural areas. Tornadoes destroy the habitats of wildlife as well as humans so be on the alert for injured and potentially dangerous wildlife.
· Do not drink the water in your home unless health authorities have declared it to be safe. This is especially true if you are in an area without electricity or other utilities.
· Check with your homeowners insurance before beginning an extensive cleanup. Trying to recover valuables like photos or personal mementos should not be a problem, but be sure to contact your insurance carriers before you do anything more so they can get the information they need to file your claim first.