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Extension > Extreme weather > Cleanup: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Cleanup: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q) When can I return to my home after a flood?

Don't return home until authorities have indicated it is safe.

Q) What should I look for when I re-enter a building?

When entering buildings, use extreme caution and be cautious of hazards include gas leaks, electrical problems including electrocution, structural problems and contaminated food and water.

Q) What are the concerns with possible gas leaks?

Leave your home immediately and call 911 and the gas company if you smell the putrid odor of leaking gas. Lanterns, torches, electrical sparks and cigarettes could cause an explosive fire if there is a leak. Do not turn on any light switches. (University of Wisconsin Extension and Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management)

Q) What should I do to report a petroleum or hazardous materials spill?

Contact the Minnesota Duty Officer at 800-422-0798; backup 651-296-2233 and TDD 651-215-6952.

When making notifications of spills/incidents, state:

The purpose of the 24-hour Minnesota Duty Officer program is to provide a single point of contact for both public and private sector entities to call. This includes single family homes. All calls require the name of the caller (you can remain anonymous), telephone number for call-backs at the scene or facility, date, time and location of the incident. (Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management)

Q) What are the concerns with possible electrical problems including electrocution?

Wear rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes to avoid electrocution. Do not turn on any lights or appliances if the house has been flooded. Turn off the electricity when checking electrical circuits and equipment or when checking a flooded basement.

Q) What are the concerns with possible structural problems?

Watch for falling debris and the possibility of collapsing ceilings and basement walls.

Q) What are the concerns with possible contaminated food and water?

Do not use water or eat food that has come in contact with floodwaters. (University Of Wisconsin Extension)

Q) How do I get the moisture out of my home?

The best way is to use outside air to dry your home so open windows and doors. Help this by using exhaust fans to remove moist air from the house. (Minnesota Department of Health)

Q) What is a moisture meter and where can I get one?

They measure moisture in wood, and can be purchased online or from many hardware stores from $50—$500. Use a moisture meter to measure wood moisture content for furniture, wood floor work, wood items and building inspections.

Q) Can I use a home dehumidifier?

Yes, run a dehumidifier in the dampest area and empty it often. (Minnesota Department of Health)

Q) What about moisture on the walls and ceilings?

Q) What should I do with wet carpeting?

Q) What should I do with wet furniture?

Q) What should I do with wet appliances, especially my furnace and hot water heater?

Q) What should I do with wet clothing?

Q) What should I do if my bed or bedding is wet?

Q) What about moisture on the floors?

Q) What should I do about my personal hygiene as I handle items in flood water?

Washing your hands is the single most important thing you can do to protect your health, especially before you eat or drink anything. The eight steps of proper hand washing:

Q) What should I do if the water is off in my home?

Transport and store clean water in clean plastic containers. Get a beverage cooler equipped with a spigot, and keep it filled with clean water for hand washing. (Minnesota Department of Health)

Q) What if the water is on but it is contaminated?

Q) I think there is mold. How do I know for sure?

If any materials are still wet or moist after 24 to 48 hours, you should assume they have mold growing on them.


Reviewed by Dick Stone April 2011

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