RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state disaster recovery officials are warning hurricane and flood victims, who are trying to make the best of a bleak holiday season, to be extra careful in order to avoid further tragedy and losses.
Many residents of eastern North Carolina are living in temporary housing or homes that still need repairs. In these unfamiliar surroundings may lurk the danger of explosion and fire.
Here are some suggestions to help make the holidays festive and safe:
- If you are in temporary housing or housing that is new to you and your family, be sure that you understand how all appliances, large and small, operate and keep them away from water and dampness.
- If you are using propane for the first time, be sure you read all the literature on the safe operation of propane fueled devices. Ask a professional to demonstrate the proper use and protection from malfunctions of propane tanks.
- Do not leave candles burning unattended inside or outside the home.
- Secure trees in sturdy stands and away from heat sources. As nearly as possible, make your tree area child- and pet-proof.
- Water live trees daily.
- Test smoke alarms. Just because they are there does not necessarily mean they work.
- If you are living in a flood-damaged house, make a thorough check of electrical lines and outlets. They may have been damaged or exposed.
- Examine cords before stringing lights and discard frayed or damaged sets.
- Decorate with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials.
For those North Carolinians who suffered losses in Hurricane Floyd and the subsequent floods, a reminder that they still have until January 18 to register for assistance. Call FEMA's registration hotline at 1-800-462-9029 or 462-7585 for hearing or speech impaired daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For those who have already registered and have questions about the applications or assistance programs, call the helpline at 1-800-525-0321 or TTY 1-800-462-7585. All calls are toll-free.