5 Areas to Check After a Fire or Storm

by Susan Evans

5 Areas to Check After a Fire or Storm

Returning home after a fire or storm? Be safe, be smart by following these recommendations.


  • Before using any electrical equipment or electrical appliances, have a certified electrician check items before you start them or turn the power back on.
  • Consult your utility company about using electrical equipment, including power generators. If a generator is online when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard.
  • If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, call an electrician for advice.
  • Remember, do not smoke, use candles, gas lanterns or other open flames inside and around your home.
  • Be careful in rooms with standing water — it may cover electrical outlets and exposed lines.

Gas Leaks

  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Call the gas company from a neighbor’s home, do not use your cell phone.
  • If you turned off the gas or it isn’t working, it must be turned back on by a professional. Have a licensed plumber or the utility company check the gas lines before restoring service.
  • Don’t turn on your cell phone if there is a danger of combustible gases. Cell phones can ignite such gases and create a major explosion.

Sewage and Water Line Damage

  • If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber.
  • If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company, and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heaters or by melting ice cubes.

Water Damage, Interior Flooding

  • If flooded, pump out your basement gradually. The walls could collapse or the floor could buckle if the surrounding ground is waterlogged. Not sure? Get an inspector.
  • If your home has sustained water damage, visit FEMA and review the information on water damage under the Before and After a Flood section.

WHN Expert TIP – Water Damage Clean-Up Tips: Greg Kistler, a ServPro cleanup and restoration specialist from South Washington County in Minnesota, provides water damage cleanup advice in this podcast.


  • Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home, if possible.
  • Watch for loose plaster, drywall and ceilings that could fall.
  • To protect and minimize further damage, cover holes in roof or windows with tarps if necessary.

WHN TIP – Learn Ladder Safety: Download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Ladder Safety App for advice on extension and step ladder safety. The free app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Photo Credit: Andrew Gaines

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