Don't Return Home Until Officials Say The Area Is Safe; Then Be Careful

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Release date: 
July 7, 2007
Release Number: 

WICHITA, Kan. -- Don?t return to your flood-damaged home before the area is declared to be safe by local officials. Federal and state disaster officials also urge people to take extra precautions when returning.


  • Watch for snakes, dangerous animals and insects: When outside, wear proper clothing and use insect repellant. Watch where you are walking or sitting. Avoid tall grass, small holes burrowed into the ground and small, loose piles of dirt. Scare away snakes and other animals by poking a stick into likely hiding places around your home. Call local authorities to handle wild or stray animals.
  • Exercise caution when driving: Objects falling from trucks hauling away household items and debris-laden trucks in storm and flood-damaged communities can cause accidents.


  • Check the outside of the building: Call the utility company immediately if you find downed power lines or detect gas leaks.
  • Look for external damage: Examine the foundation for cracks or other damage. Inspect porch roofs and overhangs to be sure they are adequately supported. It may not be safe to enter.
  • Enter the building carefully: If the door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling is ready to cave in. If you force the door open, stand outside to avoid being hit by falling debris. If in doubt about the safety of a building, do not enter.


  • Look before you step: Floors and stairs may be covered with debris and may be very slippery. Watch out for broken bottles, nails, soft spots and other hazards.
  • Be alert for gas leaks: Do not strike a match or use an open flame when entering a building unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated. Use a flashlight to inspect. If the gas has been turned off, do not turn it on. Call the utility company to restore your service.
  • Turn off the electricity: Even if the power company has turned off electricity to the area, be sure to disconnect your house?s power supply. Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet until they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
  • Carbon monoxide exhaust kills: Do not use generators or other gasoline-powered machines indoors. All cooking on camp stoves and charcoal grills should only be done outside.
  • Drain the basement carefully and slowly: Groundwater creates hydrostatic pressure on basement walls and floors. Drain the basement no more than one foot per day to minimize further damage.
  • Dry out your home: Floodwaters damage materials, leave mud, silt and unknown contaminants and promote the growth of mold and mildew. Dry your home to reduce these hazards and the damage they cause.
  • Clean up: The walls, floors, closets, shelves, contents and any other parts of your home that have been flooded should be thoroughly washed and disinfected.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal Rights. If you are suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the Fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.

FEMA coordinates the federal government?s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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