After a Flood

Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or television and don’t return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance – infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
  • Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.
  • Stay out of buildings if flood waters remain around the building.
  • When entering buildings, use extreme caution.
    • Wear sturdy shoes and use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings.
    • Examine walls, floors, doors, and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
    • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come into your home with the flood waters. Use a stick to poke through debris.
    • Watch for loose plaster and ceilings that could fall.
    • Take pictures of the damage – both to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
  • Look for fire hazards.
    • Broken or leaking gas lines
    • Flooded electrical circuits
    • Submerged furnaces or electrical appliances
    • Flammable or explosive materials coming from upstream
  • Throw away food – including canned goods – that has come in contact with flood waters.
  • Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.
Inspecting Utilities in a Damaged House
  • Check for gas leaks
    • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Look for electrical system damage
    • If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
  • Check for sewage and water lines damage
    • If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
For more information about cleaning up after a flood, click here.
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