When first returning to a flooded home, you may face many threats to life and health. The first and most obvious issue: is the building structurally sound? Only a structural engineer or other building official can answer this with any certainty, but some warning signs include:
If any of these are true, then the building may collapse at any time. It must not be entered unless a qualified official has declared it safe. Don’t take any chances!
Is the basement flooded? If so, then make sure ground water has receded before pumping it out. Basements that are pumped out while the ground is still soaked may collapse as the outside water pressure is no longer balanced by pressure inside the basement.
Beware of debris piles:
Beware of walking through flooded areas; there may be holes or dropoffs that you can’t see.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is burned. High concentrations can kill!
When coming back to a house that is wet, cold and without heat or power, it is tempting to use an electric generator, or an improvised heater, such as a BBQ or camp stove. Do not operate these devices indoors. (Opening windows is not sufficient to prevent CO buildup.) Make sure gas-powered electric generators are outdoors (or, if indoors, properly vented) and away from windows or other air intakes. Fuel-fired, unvented space heaters can be used if manufacturers' directions are carefully followed. Note that these devices produce large amounts of moisture as fuel is burned, so their drying ability is quite limited.
Do check chimneys and flues for blockage by debris before using furnaces, hot water heaters, wood stoves, etc.
Mold and other organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, that thrive in wet environments can trigger negative health effects. These range from irritation, coughing and headache to asthma attacks and possibly life-threatening infections.
Here are a few of the most important things that you should know about mold: