Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to radio or television and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

Entering a Building After a Flood

Before entering the building, inspect the foundation for cracks or other damage. When entering the building, use extreme caution.

Wear sturdy shoes and take battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to examine the damage. Do not use matches or other open flames because gas may be trapped inside.

Examine walls, floors, doors and windows to make sure the building is not in danger of collapsing. Watch for loose plaster and ceilings that could fall.

Take pictures of the damage – both to the house and its contents

– for insurance claims. If possible, take photos that show the high- water marks left on walls and other damage.

Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwaters. Use a stick to poke through debris.

Look for fire hazards, such as broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, submerged furnaces or electrical appliances and flammable or explosive materials that may have come from upstream.

Cover broken windows and holes in the roof or walls to prevent further weather damage. The expense of these temporary repairs is usually covered under your flood insurance policy, so save your receipts.

Inspecting Utilities in a Damaged Home

Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned on by a professional.

Keep power off until the electrical system is inspected. If you see sparks or broken and rayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, call an electrician for advice before doing anything.

Check for sewage and water-line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.