"The Flood Is Over" But Is It Safe To Go Home?

Reentering a flooded house is a priority for most homeowners as soon as the water recedes. However, it's important to consider this: Any structure affect by floodwater must be considered a hazardous environment. Injuries and death frequently occur after the main disaster event has subsided—just when the occupants thought it was safe to come back again. Before hastily reentering a flooded house, stop and think about these factors first.

  • If evacuation was mandatory, you shouldn't even be in the vicinity until local authorities have given the green light for residents to return. You may expose yourself to law enforcement sanctions if you come back to an area before it is officially permissible.
  • Don't enter a flooded house if the electricity is on. Shut off electricity at the main panel only if the area of the house where the panel is located is completely dry. If it is wet, you'll need an electrician or a technician from the utility to disconnect power at the meter. Even if the local power grid is down, stay out of the structure until house power has been shut off. Grid electricity could be restored without warning at any minute and result in electrocution.
  • If you smell natural gas, shut off the gas at the main shutoff valve. If you are unable to access the shutoff valve, stay out of the house and call the gas company.
  • Floodwater is contaminated and toxic. Take precautions to avoid direct contact with floodwater including proper clothing, gloves, eye protection and a breathing mask.
  • Be aware of structural hazards. Stay out of rooms with sagging, saturated walls or ceiling. They may collapse at any time.
  • Don't wade into deep standing water such as a flooded basement.
  • Be aware that animals including venomous snakes may inhabit flooded premises.
  • Open doors and windows to initiate ventilation.
  • Once power is safely restored, don't turn on any major appliances or your HVAC system if these components were contacted by floodwater. They should be inspected by an electrician first.

Ask the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc. for more about safely reentering a flooded house.