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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Re-entering Your Home After Utility Service Interruption

If your gas and electric service was interrupted, you may encounter special problems as you return to your home. The following recommendations are provided to avoid potential safety and health concerns that may occur as you re-enter your home after a utility interruption.  

Natural Gas Safety  |  Fireplace Safety  |  Electrical Safety
Water Safety  |  Food Safety | Portable Generator Hazards

Natural Gas Safety

  • If on entering your home, you notice a natural gas odor, do NOT enter. Immediately call your local utility company.
  • Wait for the utility company or a heating contractor to re-light all pilots in your gas-fired appliances.
  • While waiting for your furnace to be re-lighted, do NOT use other heating sources such as gas space heaters, grills, or other appliances that can give off dangerous fumes. Carbon Monoxide produced by gas appliances is dangerous and can be fatal.

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Fireplace Safety

  • If you use your fireplace for heating, be sure the flue is open and operating correctly. Do NOT overload your fireplace. Be sure to burn only clean, untreated or unpainted wood.

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Electrical Safety

  • If you decide to use electric heaters, be careful to place them away from items that can burn. Because of possible fire hazards, do not leave heaters unattended.
  • If you have electrical problems, call the your local utility company.

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Water Safety

  • Broken water pipes may have created puddles in your home. Do not use electrical appliances while standing in water because there is a danger of electric shock or electrocution.
  • In case of water damage, contact your local public health department for a list of plumbers and a flood brochure.
  • Turn on and run faucets for at least five minutes before using water for drinking or food preparation. If a "boil water" notice is issued, follow any directions given by the Department of Natural Resources.  Additional information about drinking water is available.
  • If you receive a cut or puncture wound while cleaning your home, tetanus shots are available through the Local Public Health Department.

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Food Safety

  • Extreme temperatures may have damaged food in your refrigerator. Evaluate (by odor and appearance) all meats, seafood, milk, produce and leftovers. When in doubt, throw it out. Discard canned foods that appear to have been damaged by freezing (swollen cans).
  • Cold temperatures will not affect dry goods (like flour or sugar) unless water-damaged.

Additional information about food safety is available.

For more information, contact your local utility or Local Public Health Department.

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Last Revised: March 27, 2013