The most important thing to consider when entering a flood damaged property is safety. There can and will be hazards all around, from problems with electrical items and natural gas appliances to contaminated water, mold and much, much more. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of precautions, but a list of things you might not think about. Please use common sense before entering the property. If it doesn’t appear safe, DO NOT ENTER. Call a professional to make sure.
- Before you turn anything on or plug in an appliance, have an electrician check the house wiring and appliances to make sure it is safe to use.
- If any of the appliances have been under water, have them dried out and reconditioned by a qualified service repairman. Do not use any electrical appliance that has not been checked out or reconditioned because it poses an electrical shock hazard and could overheat the appliance and cause a fire.
- If you use any electrical equipment for cleanup, i.e. wet-dry vacuum, power tools etc. be sure they are plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). Do not allow power cords to be submerged or wet. Never remove or bypass the ground pin on a three-pronged plug in order to insert it into a non-grounded outlet. Electrical circuit breakers and fuses that have been submerged need to be discarded and replaced with new.
- Have all gas appliances (LP and natural gas) inspected and serviced before using. This includes gas furnaces, water heaters, cook stoves etc. If they were underwater have the gas controls replaced. Water and silt can damage gas controls and cause them to not operate properly. If you smell gas or hear it escaping, turn off the main line valve, open windows, and leave the area. Call the gas company and report the problem. Never use any electrical appliance, turn lights on or off, light a match, or us the telephone. These all may produce sparks.
- Smoke detectors need to be tested before and after any work is done in the house. Smoke detectors can save your life in case of fire or smoke.
- Many deaths have occurred during cleanup work while burning charcoal for cooking and staying warm. Never burn charcoal appliances inside homes, mobile homes, garages, cars, trucks, tents, or campers. Charcoal gives off carbon monoxide when burned. Carbon monoxide is odorless and can kill you.
- Remember to keep household chemicals and medicines locked up or stored out of children’s reach.