Steps to Stay Safe When Returning to a Flooded Home

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COURT HOUSE – When returning to a home that’s been flooded after a hurricane or other natural disaster, be aware that your house may be contaminated with mold or sewage, which can cause health risks for your family. “We understand that everyone needs to get back to their homes as soon as possible to start the clean-up process,” said Health Officer Kevin Thomas. “Please take a moment to read over the following information and stay safe as you move through the recovery phase,” he added.

To help New Jersey residents as they cleanup their homes and businesses after Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey Department of Health has public health experts available through the state’s 2-1-1 system to answer questions about food and water safety and general environmental health information including mold removal. Concerned residents can call 2-1-1 or 1-866-234-0964 between 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 5 pm on weekends. Additional information for recovering from flooding is available at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/.

When You First Re-enter Your Home

• If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, turn off the power. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off. Never turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water. Have an electrician check the house’s electrical system before turning the power on again.
• If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company or the police or fire departments, and do not turn on the lights or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
• If the house has been closed up for several days, enter briefly to open doors and windows to let the house air out for awhile (at least 30 minutes) before you stay for any length of time.
• If your home has been flooded and has been closed up for several days, presume your home has been contaminated with mold. (See “Protect Yourself from Mold” at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/protect.asp).
• If your home has been flooded, it also may be contaminated with sewage. (See “After a Hurricane or Flood: Cleanup of Flood Water” at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/cleanupwater.asp).