Moving Back Home After a Fire or Storm

While it's very difficult, think of this as an extremely extended camping trip as you cope over the next few weeks and months.

  1. Be safe. Be smart. Be patient.
  2. This is a time of emotional and physical stress. Look after yourself and your family during cleanup and repairs.
    • Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do one job at a time.
    • Rest often and remember to eat.
    • Even when there is rebuilding or cleanup to be done, playtime with children is time well spent.
  3. Food Safety
    • Your fridge may have been off for some time. Think of it as a picnic basket that’s been left too long in the sun, and rifle through it accordingly.
    • Power outage? Some foods may be spoiled.
    • Do not consume any food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters, mud or other contaminants.
    • Don’t assume frozen food is safe to eat.
    • Read our Food Safety Guide on what foods could be contaminated and which items may be salvaged. Remember: When in doubt, throw it out.
  4. Water Safety
    • Think of water in your yard as swamp water. Waterborne illnesses may be present.
    • Do not allow children to play in floodwater areas, make sure you and your family wash your hands frequently (always before meals)
    • Do not allow children to play with flood-water-contaminated toys that have not been disinfected.
    • WHN READER TIP: Clean Zone

      Make a “clean zone” to play, eat and sleep in. Choose a dry, non-contaminated area to keep toys and important items. Try to stay in the clean zone as much as possible and keep it clean.

    • Avoid drinking tap water until or unless an authority gives the OK; public supplies may be contaminated. Undamaged water heaters or melted ice cubes are good sources of fresh drinking water.
    • To protect yourself from mosquitoes, use screens on dwellings, and wear long-sleeved and long-legged clothing. Use insect repellent. Read our article Mosquitoes for more information about safe protection from bites and disease.
  5. Clothing
    • When you shop or ask for clothing from relief workers, imagine that you’re filling your backpack for a camping trip. A surprising number of people forget to ask relief workers for underwear and socks, something for pajamas, including long underwear for cold nights.
  6. Cleaning
    • Read our article Cleaning Your Possessions and Home for tips on cleaning your clothing, walls, carpets, important papers, furniture, photographs, etc.
    • Toxic cleaning products and solvents may have been blown from their cabinets or your neighbors’ garages. Steer clear. Do not try to clean up the toxic products yourself. Call a professional or emergency worker for assistance.