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After the Flood

Your home has been flooded. Here are some things to remember in the days ahead:

  • Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice as soon as available.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by emergency services.
  • Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.
  • If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded stay on firm ground. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.

Health and safety come first

Entering a wet basement could be hazardous! Before you enter your basement, consider the following:

  • Electrical Shock – When your basement is wet, there is a risk of electrical shock.
    • If you are positive that you can safely do so, turn off your home’s power at the main breaker switches.
    • Before restoring power to the home or using electrical appliances that may have been affected by the flood, consider having them inspected by a qualified electrician.
    • Consider having wood, gas and electrical heating systems inspected by a qualified technician before use.
  • Gas leaks –If you smell gas, leave the house right away and then contact your gas company and the fire department. Check to make sure carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Pollutants – Flood water may be contaminated with sewage. Protect yourself by wearing protective equipment such as gloves, safety eyewear, a face mask and rubber boots, and be sure to frequently wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Chemicals – While cleaning and disinfecting the flooded area continue to wear protective equipment and ventilate the area well.
  • Structural damage – Flood waters can weaken walls or even ceiling structures. If you are concerned or suspect that the structural integrity of your home may be compromised, leave the area and contact a professional.

Preparing for clean up

Repairing a home that has experienced extensive water damage or has been flooded with sewage-contaminated waters may require a professional.

If you have property insurance, you should consult with your adjuster before you begin the clean-up. When hiring contractors for clean-up or repair, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job.

  • Wear protective clothing, such as disposable overalls, protective eyewear, gloves, a face mask and rubber boots.
  • Beware of the electrical system and appliances. Shut off the electrical system, if possible. Provide as much ventilation as you can, by opening windows if the weather permits, and using fans.

Clean up

  • Salvage your belongings. Remove as much as you can out of the flood zone as quickly as possible to help prevent water damage and mould. Some belongings, especially those that are contaminated with sewage, or those that cannot be quickly dried and effectively cleaned, may not be salvageable.
  • Eliminate excess water using a water pump, a wet/dry vacuum, old rags and/or towels.
  • Remove soaked and dirty building materials and debris, including wet insulation, and drywall.
  • Carpets and furniture that can be salvaged may need to be professionally cleaned and dried.
  • Quickly and thoroughly dry and dehumidify the home. Ventilating the area with outdoor air and fans will help. A dehumidifier will work to remove moisture from the home.
  • Clean all surfaces and belonging. Wipe or scrub away dirt and debris using a solution of unscented detergent and water.
  • Disinfect all surfaces and belongings. Thorough cleaning is required before disinfection. Follow the directions on the product label, wear appropriate personal protective equipment and ventilate the area. Do not mix chlorine (bleach) and ammonia-based products.
  • Dispose of non-salvageable items and building materials. Some minor items may be placed out for regular garbage pickup, but a trip or two to the dump may be required.


  • Store all valuable papers that have been damaged in a freezer until they are needed (After your clean-up, consult your lawyer to determine whether flood-damaged documents, or just the information in them, must be retained).
  • Record details of flood damage by photograph or video, if possible.
  • Register the amount of damage to your home with your insurance agent.


Mould may lead to health problems. Get more information on mould

Drinking water, food, and medicine

  • If you are a private well owner and suspect that your well may be contaminated, test the well water before consuming it.
  • All undamaged canned goods must be thoroughly washed and disinfected.
  • Dispose of all medicines, cosmetics and other toiletries that may have been exposed to flood water.
  • Dispose of any of the following food items if they have been exposed to flood water: contents of freezer or refrigerator, including all meats and all fresh fruit and vegetables, all boxed foods, all bottled drinks and products in jars, including home preserves (since the area under the seal cannot be properly disinfected) and cans with large dents or seepage.