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When a natural disaster strikes, there are generally only two things you care about: Your family and your home. Only after everyone is safe is it time to focus on your home. See what some of our disaster-savvy readers advise for a safe return.

Kyle Paterson, RIB (Ont.), LLQP, Director of Business Development & Culture at Bryson Insurance.

Check Your Electricity, Drinking Water

1. Make sure the electrical has been inspected
Electricity leverages water. If the main power switch at your control panel was not turned off before the flood, make sure to get an electrician in to determine if entering your home is safe. Even if the power was turned off, it is still recommended to have an electrician clean, inspect, and test your electrical panel. In addition to the electrical panel, a qualified electrician needs to clean, inspect, and test household appliances affected by the flood.

2. Check your drinking water
Regardless of where you live, I recommend getting the regular water supply tested before use. Bathing in or drinking contaminated water is unsafe. Water testing can sometimes be conducted for free and the result will let you know if the water is officially safe for use.

Make Safety a Priority

As a roofing expert, I believe that returning home after a natural disaster is risky. The house structure is still sensitive and prone to accidents. To do it safely, here are the steps you should take into consideration:

1. Check the exterior and interior parts of your house.
Check to see if the path is safe and accessible to your family member. Investigate the ceiling to see if it is still safe and not brittle.

2. Don’t turn on your electricity.
Electricity is not yet safe to use after a flood or natural disaster. Instead, use flashlights and wait for a public announcement regarding the use of electricity.

3. Wear appropriate clothes.
Wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves or boots when coming home. This is to protect you from potentially dangerous situations such as live wires on the floor or flood-related viruses.

Brad Griebenow, Founder of Colorado Springs Roofer.

Jack Miller is the founder of How I Get Rid Of. He is a home improvement and pest control expert with more than 15 years of experience.

Proceed with Caution

It’s tough to return to your home that’s been damaged by flooding. And if you’re doing so, the very first thing you should be thinking about is proceeding with utmost caution. Forget about the salvageable personal belongings for the time being. At this point, you’re still in danger.

1. Turn off the power
If your main power switch doesn’t require you to enter standing water, then you can do this yourself. Otherwise, seek the help of a professional. Never attempt to do this on your own.

2. Switch off the main gas valve
If you’re using gas for cooking, this is your top priority number two. However, if you’re already smelling gas upon entering your home, leave immediately and call the authorities.

3. Open all doors and windows
Especially if your home’s been closed up for a few days, opening all doors and windows allows for better ventilation. Leave these open for at least half an hour. Fans and dehumidifiers can also help.

You’re likely dealing with some mold development, which is another concern you should be looking at.

4. Throw away perishable goods
All that food in your fridge is likely compromised by now. They may smell fine, but you wouldn’t want to risk it at this point. Yes, it does feel harsh to throw out food, but this is a situation where you’ll just have to cut your losses.

5. Do a thorough cleaning
This will be a long, painstaking process, so brace yourself. Play some music or listen to a podcast while you’re doing work. As mentioned, you’ll need to focus on potential mold growth, which can harm your health. All surfaces should also be disinfected.

Another important note: Be extra careful when dealing with floodwater. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after. And if you have an open wound, avoid it from being exposed, as you could catch severe illnesses like leptospirosis.

Check Electrical Lines First

Evacuating your house following a natural disaster such as flooding can be a difficult event. What procedures do you need to take to assure your continued safety once the situation has been more under control and you’ve been given the go signal to return to your home?

The electrical lines are one of the first things you should inspect when returning home after being flooded. Before touching any cables, make sure the main switch is turned off, as they may produce an electrical circuit after being submerged for a while.

Before attempting to open any stove valves, be sure there are no gas leaks.

You can also look for sections in your house that are comparatively dryer than the rest of the house and bring your other belongings there while attempting to restore order.

Joe Wilson is the Senior Employment Advisor at MintResume.

Tony Grenier, CEO of Grenier Media. He is an expert in playing different musical instruments so he founded the company, Instrumental Global.

Keep Calm and Stay Aware

First, ask the officers in the evacuation area if it is already safe to return home. They are in direct communication with the teams in the affected area so they know if it is safe to return.

If it is already allowed, go to the grocery store before returning home. Buy cleaning materials and foods as you may need to clean a lot. It is best to buy ready-to-eat food as you may not be able to use the cooking equipment yet.

Always have the presence of mind. There may be some actives wires that have been exposed or broken glasses everywhere, so you have to mind your surroundings. Always be careful.

3 Things to Consider Before Returning Home

1. Secure a place to stay in first
Do not bring your family back to the house immediately. Have someone check in the home to make sure that the coast is clear. For instance, if there is a flood, make sure that there are no water [or exposed wiring] at home anymore to prevent anyone from being electrocuted.

2. Ask first-responders to guide you in observing your home
You need to check on every corner, every hallway, every plug, everywhere. And you need to check it with someone professional to do it so that you won’t get into trouble as well.

3. Make sure that there are no aftershocks or any other after-effects
As I’ve first pointed out, make sure you have a place to stay in first because going home right after a may not be too smart of a decision at all. The coast may be clear but it’s better to double-check than to be sorry.

Sherry Morgan, Founder of Petsolino.

Jack and his crew at Sarasota Mold Pros have been proudly serving the city of Sarasota and helping citizens in resolving their water and mold damage problems.

Tips for Immediate and Long-Term Recovery

Safety First
— Assess any injuries and provide aid if necessary.
— Call 911 if you need additional assistance.
— Keep an eye out for news updates on what to do.
— Flooded areas should be avoided.
— Handling animals should be done with caution.

Personal Healthcare
— You and your family are a priority. Rest and take care of yourself.
— Eat and sleep as well as you can.
— Consult a mental health professional if you experience stress, anxiety, panic attacks, or similar conditions.
— Rebuild your work habits slowly. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t as productive as you used to be.

Home Restoration
— Repairs that are most important should be done first.
— Fill in the holes.
— Water leaks should be checked.
— Make sure your home is mold-free.
— Dry out your house. Dehumidifiers can help.
— Clean slowly. Quality over speed.
— Make a flood insurance claim.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.