Flooding - Re-entering Your Home
After a Flood
A home that is flooded might be contaminated with mold or sewage, which can cause health risks for
your family. There might also be safety risks if your gas and electric
service was interrupted.
The following tips will help you avoid or reduce safety and health
risks as you re-enter your home.
| Electrical | Portable
Generators | Water Damage
Natural Gas Safety
- If you notice a natural gas odor when entering your home, do NOT enter. Immediately call
your local utility company or your fire department.
- Have furnace or gas appliance inspected by a professional repair
person, and then have them re-light the appliance or furnace.
- 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.
- Have your electrical system inspected by a electrical contractor
or building inspector
- Any electrical outlets that were submerged, MUST be inspected
- If you have electrical problems, call the your local utility company.
- Electrical appliances that were exposed to the water, must be
completely dry before use. Note: electrical motors that were
submerged probably will not work (e.g. refrigerator motor)
- 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.
- Buildings that have been flooded should be inspected by a building
inspector for structural damage before re-occupancy
- Broken water pipes may have created puddles in your home. Using electrical
appliances while standing in water can cause electric shock or
- If you receive a cut or puncture wound while cleaning your home, tetanus shots are
available through your local
public health department.
- If you are on municipal water, 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, the local utility
company, or your local health department. More information about drinking
water is available.
- Damaged or wet flooring, carpeting, furniture, drywall,
insulation, etc. should be removed and disposed of to prevent mold
- In case of water damage, contact your local public health department for a list of
plumbers and a flood brochure.
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What to do with Food after a Flood
- For infants, use ONLY pre-prepared canned baby formula that
requires no added water, rather than powdered formulas prepared with
- Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood
water. Throw out any food that is not in a waterproof container if there
is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water.
- We recommend that canned foods that have come in contact with
contaminated water be disposed of as a precautionary measure. However,
undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the
can labels, wash the cans, and then disinfect them with a solution
consisting of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Re-label
your cans, including the expiration date, with a marker.
- Food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop
bottles), twist caps, flip tops, and home canned foods should be
discarded if they have come into contact with flood water because they
cannot be disinfected.
- If your refrigerator or freezer is without power for a period
of time, all stored items should be carefully checked. Double check (by odor and
appearance) all meats, seafood, milk, produce and leftovers. Perishable food
left at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown out.
Frozen food that has thawed should be thrown out if not eaten right
away or kept refrigerated. When in doubt, throw it out.
- FDA has a printable
fact sheet about food handling after a flood. (exit
DHS; PDF, 499 KB)
- Safety of
Produce from Flooded Gardens (PDF, 115 KB) UW Extension
For more information, contact your local utility or Local Public Health Department.
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April 25, 2013