Tornado season is over, but if you’ve recently been the victim of a tornado’s destructive force and are returning home to assess damage for the first time, consider the following recommendations we’ve summarized from the Red Cross.

Inspect the area outside of your home before you enter. Look for things like downed power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, cracks in the foundation of your home, missing support beams or other damage. Outer damage may indicate there are serious problems inside. You might ask a building inspector or a contractor to check the structure before you go inside.

Be sure not to cut or walk past colored tape that’s been placed over doors or windows to mark damaged areas—unless you’ve been told it’s safe to do so. If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on your home, do not enter it until you get more information and instructions from authorities.

When entering your home if you find that the door is jammed, don’t force it open because it could be providing support to the rest of the structure. Find another way inside.

Be sure to sniff for gas. If you smell natural or propane gas, or hear a hissing noise inside your home, you should leave the property right away and physically distance yourself from the house. After you reach a safe distance call your local fire department.

If you have a propane tank system be sure to turn off all its valves and contact your propane supplier to check out the system before using it again.

You should beware of animals like rodents and snakes that may have entered your home. As you move through your residence make noise to get them to scurry—perhaps tapping loudly on the floor with a stick.

Damaged objects inside your home, like furniture or stairs, may be unstable. So be very careful when moving near them.

Exact Recon specializes in home and business clean-up, repair, and reconstruction after tornado, wind, and storm damage. Contact us for a free damage analysis. Our experts are ready to get you back on track.