Returning to your home can be an emotional experience after a disaster strikes. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous one. It is important that you properly inspect your home and identify any potential hazards from the disaster. If you have any doubts about how damages could affect your safety, have your home inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.

Before you begin cleaning up, take pictures of any damages and keep accurate records of any repairs and cleaning costs for insurance purposes. Here are a few hazards to look for:

  • Natural gas. If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Alert the gas company as soon as possible.

  • Sparks and broken or frayed wires. If you suspect damage to any part of your electrical system or if there is standing water in your home, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if you can safely do so. Do not use electricity unless you are certain it is safe to do so.

  • Roof, foundation and chimney cracks. A close examination of your home’s structural integrity is very important. If you feel that there is a chance for collapse, leave immediately.

  • Water and sewage systems. If any pipes are damaged, turn off your water at the main valve. Check with local authorities before using any water, as it may be contaminated. Also, make sure sewer lines are intact before using toilets.

  • Hazardous materials. Household chemicals, raw sewage, and other substances that have spilled or leaked throughout your home need to be safely cleaned up as soon as possible.

Once you have taken stock of the damage, contact your insurance broker and inform them of the situation if you haven’t already. They’ll advise you on how to proceed and will assist you with filing your claim. Your Broker will ensure that your claim is processed properly and in a timely manner so you can back to your life!

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional or legal advice.

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