You should not return home following an emergency unless told to do so by emergency officials. Take caution even when told it is safe to return home.

As you return home, be careful of continued emergency operations that may still be occurring. Watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.

Before You Enter Your Home

Carefully walk around the outside of your residence to check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, do not enter your resident until it can be inspected by officials. Do not enter your home if it appears unsafe to do so or it has not been declared safe by authorities. 

Going Inside Your Home

Enter your residence carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors. The following items are some things to check inside your home:

  • Natural gas. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call for help.
  • Sparks, broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help.
  • Roof, foundation and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.
  • Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out.
  • Water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking.
  • Food and other supplies. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or spoiled.
  • Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Clean salvageable items.

Call your insurance agent as soon as possible. To make your insurance claim easier, be sure to take pictures of all damages and keep detailed records of clean up and repairs.