Returning Home After a Disaster

  • Put on sturdy, hard-soled shoes and work gloves for protection.
  • Use the phone only to report a life threatening emergency.
  • Use a battery operated radio to get any emergency updates.
  • Call your insurance agent.
  • Keep records of all clean-up and repair costs.
  • Don't throw away damaged goods until a complete inventory is made, and photos taken of your home and damaged goods.
  • Notify disaster relief services if you need housing, food, etc.
  • Secure personal belongings.
  • If you are a tenant, notify the landlord.
  • If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound - open a window and leave the building. Shut off the main gas valve outside.
  • If there is electrical damage, switch off the power at the main control panel.
  • Check for injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • If water pipes are damaged, shut off the main water supply valve.
  • Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches and flammable liquids.
  • Stay away from flood waters.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet in the flood. The mud left behind by flood waters can contain sewage and chemicals.
  • Throw out food, cosmetics and medicines that have come into contact with flooded waters.
  • If your basement is flooded, pump it out gradually (about 1/3 of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.
  • Stay out of burned structures.
  • Ask the fire department for assistance in retrieving important documents.
  • Be prepared for after shocks.
  • Be careful when entering a damaged building. If you have any doubts about the integrity of the building, have the structure inspected by a professional before entering.
  • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.