20 Things You Shouldn't Do After a Flood

Flood Safety Tips for After the Floods

Updated July 8, 2015

Floods affect millions of people each year. Each year, floods are considered billion dollar weather disasters. In fact, floods are the #1 weather disaster each and every year in terms of economic losses. The range of damages after a flood can be major or minor. Examples of major damages include total loss of housing, crop failure, and death. Minor flood damage can include a small amount of seepage in the basement or crawlspace. Your car may also become flooded. No matter what the damage, keep these 20 flood safety tips in mind.

Edited by Tiffany Means

01
of 20

Don't Wade Through Flood Waters

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Wading through flood waters is dangerous for several reasons. For one, you could be swept away by rapidly-moving flood waters. For another, flood waters can carry debris, chemicals, and sewage which can cause injuries, disease, infection, and that are generally harmful to one's health.

02
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Don't Drive Through Flood Waters

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Driving in flood waters is dangerous and risky. Cars can be swept away in just a few inches of water. You can become stranded, or worse...

03
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Don't Forgo Flood Insurance/Let Your Flood Insurance Policy Lapse

Robin Olimb/Digital Vector Images/Getty Images

Flood losses aren't typically covered under homeowner's or renter's insurance. If you live in or near a flood zone, consider getting flood insurance today -- don't wait until you need it!

04
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Don't Ignore Flood Stage Warnings

Every river has its own unique flood stage, or height at which flooding risk increases. Even if you don't live directly next to a river you should still monitor the flood stage of rivers in your vicinity. Flooding of neighboring areas often begins before the river reaches it's major flood stage height.

Mold and mildew can lead to serious structural issues in buildings even years after flood waters have receded. In addition, breathing in these fungi is a serious health hazard. More »

06
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Don't Handle Electrical Wires

Always remember that electrical lines and water do not mix. Standing in water and attempting to remove electrical wires is plain dangerous. Also remember that even if you do not have power in some locations in your house, not all the lines could be dead.
07
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Do Not: Handle Stray Animals Just After a Flood

Snakes, rodents, and stray animals can be extremely dangerous after a flood. From bites to diseases, never handle or approach animals after a flood. Keep in mind that insects are also a huge nuisance after a flood and can carry diseases.
08
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Do Not: Forgoing Protective Clothing and Gloves

Always wear protective clothing and gloves after a flood. Chemicals, animals, and debris can cause serious illness or injury. It is also a good idea to wear a protective mask when cleaning up after a flood. Many of the chemicals or mold can cause respiratory problems.
09
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Do Not: Drive on Previously Flooded Roads and Bridges

Floods can damage roads and bridges. Unseen structural damage can mean it is not safe to drive on previously flooded roadways. Be sure that the area has been inspected by officials and approved for travel.
10
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Do Not: Neglect Having a Post-Flood Home Inspection

You should have your home inspected after a flood for unseen damages. Structural problems are not always apparent once the flood waters recede. A good inspector will check the structure of the house, the electrical system, the heating and cooling system, the sewage system, and more.
11
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Ignoring Your Septic Tank or Sewage System

If your house is flooded, so is your septic tank or sewage system. Raw sewage is extremely dangerous and can carry a multitude of infectious agents. Be sure your plumbing system is in tact before resuming your daily routines in your home.
12
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Do Not: Drink Tap Water After a Flood

Unless you get an official okay from your township or city, do not drink the water. Whether you have a well, spring water, or city water, the system may have been contaminated by flood waters. Have a professional test your water after the flood to be sure it's safe. Until then, drink bottled water.

13
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Do Not: Light Candles in a Flooded Building

Why would lightning a candle -- an emergency kit staple -- be a bad idea after a flood? It's very possible that standing flood water could contain oil, gasoline, or other flammable liquids.

14
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Do Not: Forget to Keep Immunizations Current

Have you had a tetanus shot in the last ten years? Are your immunizations current? Floods waters can draw insects (like mosquitos) that carry diseases and can carry all sorts of debris that could puncture your skin underwater without you even realizing it. Keep yourself and your children current on their immunizations to prevent problems.

15
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Do Not: Underestimating Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. Keep generators and gas-powered heaters in areas with good ventilation. Also make sure your home is well ventilated during clean up. It is also a good idea to keep a carbon monoxide detector in the home.
16
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Do Not: Forget to Take Photos

I always recommend keeping a disposable camera in your emergency supply kit. Photos of damages can help you to make a claim to your insurance company after the flood is over. The photos can also be used to document the extent of the floods. Finally, you may even be able to learn how to better protect your home from another flood if you live in a flood prone area.
Even a small storm can cause a loss of power for days. Not having power, especially in the winter months can be dangerous. Always have a weather emergency kit available. The kit can be stored in a large plastic bin and put in the corner of your garage or a closet. Maybe you wil never use the kit, but maybe you will. Learn how to make a weather emergency kit. More »
18
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Eating After a Flood

Foods in the pantry can be dangerous after a flood. High humidity and the spread of insects can cause even seemingly dry foods to become infested. Thrown out dry goods in boxes. Also throw out any foods that came in contact with the flood water.
19
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Pumping Out a Basement Too Soon

Even after the flood waters have receded outside, your basement may be full of water. The level of water can vary, but even a small amount of water can cause structural damage. The most important point to remember is that water on the inside of the basement means there is water on the outside of the basement walls. The ground is typically saturated after a heavy storm. If you pump out the basement too soon, you could be looking at costly structural damage to your home. You may even experience a total wall collapse.
20
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Do Not: Fail to Renew Your First Aid or CPR Training

Having first aid skills is important for yourself and your loved ones. You never know when you'll need to use these life-saving skills in the event of an emergency, these life-saving skills in taking care of an injured neighbor.