After a Flood

What to do first

  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Report any damage caused by the flooding. They will also advise you on how to proceed.
  • Call in professionals such as a damage restoration company to have the area cleaned properly.
  • Where possible, take measures to dry your home quickly to prevent further damage and mould growth. Use fans and dehumidifiers.

Initial safety precautions

Flooding can affects your safety and your health. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury.

  • If you had to evacuate your home, stay tuned to your local radio or television station to find out when it is safe to return home.
  • You can also visit for updates.
  • You will be notified if the municipal drinking water is unsafe to drink.
  • Don’t drive or walk through floodwaters.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Assume that everything touched by floodwaters is contaminated.
  • Keep children and pets away from flooded areas and contaminated items.
  • When you do return home, go with someone else and carry a cell phone.

Before re-entering your home after a flood

  • Check for foundation and structural damage. Check that all porch roofs and overhangs are supported.
  • If you are unsure about the safety of your home, do not go inside. Contact a qualified home inspector or structural engineer for advice.
    • Do not attempt to reconnect the electricity, natural gas, telephone or TV cable yourself. Call your service provider for assistance.

Clean up

Before you clean up.

Flood waters can contain sewage, chemicals and debris like broken glass. Wear clothing that covers your skin along with appropriate personal protective equipment including:
• hard hat
• gloves
• N-95 or equivalent masks
• protective eyewear
• rubber boots (puncture-proof and waterproof are best)

If it is safe to do so, turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box using a dry piece of wood. If you cannot, do not enter the space and contact your hydro company for assistance.

Do not use electrical appliances that are wet or may have been affected by flood water until a qualified electrician has inspected them.

Do not use anything requiring water in your home (e.g. toilets, showers, washing machine and sinks) until the flood water from your house has been removed.

Cleaning up a home that has experienced extensive water damage or has been flooded with sewage-contaminated waters may require a qualified flood damage restoration company

Do not use anything requiring water in your home (e.g. toilets, showers, washing machine and sinks) until the flood water from your house has been removed.

Cleaning up a home that has experienced extensive water damage or has been flooded with sewage-contaminated waters may require a qualified flood damage restoration company.

First steps

Take measures to prevent further damage to your home and belongings:

  • Remove standing water. Remove standing water with pumps or pails, a wet/dry vacuum and rags and/or towels. If you experience severe water levels in your basement, contact a professional damage restoration company to help drain the water slowly to prevent structural damage.
  • Make decisions about what to keep and what to throw away. Remove as much as you can out of the rooms that were flooded as quickly as possible to help prevent water damage and mould. Some belongings, especially those that are contaminated with sewage, or those that cannot be quickly dried and effectively cleaned, may not be salvageable.
  • Remove soaked and dirty building materials and debris, including wet insulation and drywall.
  • Quickly and thoroughly dry and dehumidify your home. Ventilating the area with outdoor air and fans will help. A dehumidifier will work to remove moisture from the home.

Surface cleaning

  • Clean all surfaces and belongings. Wipe or scrub away dirt and debris using a solution of unscented detergent and water.
  • Disinfect all surfaces and belongings. Be sure they have already been thoroughly cleaned. Use a disinfectant such as household bleach and carefully follow the directions for use on the product label. Be sure to wear appropriate personal protective equipment and ventilate the area.

What to do with household items

Items that have been contaminated by sewage or that have been wet for a long time and cannot be washed and disinfected should be discarded. Refer to page 23 for information on flood waste disposal.

Carpets and upholstered furniture that can be salvaged may need to be professionally cleaned and dried. If these items are sewage-soaked, they should be discarded.

Wet drywall and insulation should be removed to allow studding to dry.

Washable clothes can be salvaged.

Salvage books, photographs and papers by slow, careful drying.


  • A qualified service technician should verify the safety of any appliance that has been affected by flood water before it is used.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect appliances that can be salvaged.
  • Appliances that cannot be salvaged should be discarded

Medicines, cosmetics and other toiletries

Discard these items if they have been in contact with flood water.


  • Store all valuable papers that have been damaged in a freezer until they are needed. After your clean-up, consult your lawyer to determine whether flood-damaged documents, or just the information in them, must be retained.
  • Record details of flood damage by photograph or video if possible. • Register the amount of damage to your home with your insurance agent.

Food safety

The following foods should be considered unsafe and discarded:

• Food in boxes, bags, paper and plastic wrap
•Food and drinks in bottles, plastic containers and jars, including home preserves (the area beneath the lid
cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected)
• Fresh foods such as meats, fruits, vegetables, and eggs

Commercially canned food without dents, leaks and bulges are considered safe if properly cleaned and disinfected.
Thoroughly clean and then disinfect dishes, eating and cooking utensils and food contact surfaces. Use a disinfectant that is non-toxic and safe for food contact surfaces. Follow the directions for use on the product label.
Discard any eating utensils, cutting boards and other food contact surfaces that cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected.

If you have been without power, food in your refrigerator and freezer may be at risk. Follow these tips to reduce the risk of food-borne illness:
• Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer doors. If the door is kept closed, refrigerators will normally keep foods cool for four hours. A full freezer without power will normally keep food frozen for approximately two days, and a half-full freezer will normally keep food frozen for one day.
• Add bags of ice or ice packs to help keep the food cooler for a longer period of time.
• Consider using coolers or ice chests with a supply of ice for food storage.
• Throw out perishable foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C (40°F) for more than two hours.
• Throw out food items that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

Discarding of materials

• Visit for information about what disposal methods are available for all your
• Dispose of non-salvageable items and building materials.
• Bag items that are considered regular waste and place at the curb on your regularly scheduled waste collection day. Bags or containers of garbage (80 L or 90 x 75 cm bag). Maximum weight per container is 20 kg. or 44 lbs.


Mould can grow on wet surfaces in as little as 48 hours and any growth over time indicates a continuing moisture problem. If you begin to notice mould growth anywhere in your home after the flood, it is important to remove the source of moisture and clean the affected area. Exposure to mould does not always have negative health effects, but some individuals may be more sensitive or vulnerable to exposures.

Getting rid of Mould

The size of the affected area will determine whether you should clean and remediate the area yourself or hire a professional:
Yourself: small areas no more than one square metre.
Professional: large areas greater than one square metre.

Protect yourself and others when cleaning mould

• Wear a disposable particulate mask (for example, 3M 8210 or equivalent N95 mask), unvented safety goggles and household rubber gloves.
• Consider isolating the room to protect infants, pregnant women, the elderly or those with existing health problems such as respiratory disease or a weakened immune system.
• Use an exhaust fan blowing to the outside to help prevent contamination of other areas of the house, as well as to provide ventilation.

Cleaning mould from building materials, furnishings and other items

Washable surfaces, such as tile or glass
• Wipe or scrub surfaces using a damp cloth and a solution of water and unscented detergent. Check the product label for instructions.
• Sponge with a clean damp cloth.
• Dry quickly and thoroughly.
• Once dry, vacuum the cleaned surfaces as well as surrounding surfaces with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaner.

• Wipe the surface of the wall using a damp cloth and a solution of water and unscented detergent. Check the
product label for instructions.
• Dry quickly and vacuum with a HEPA vacuum cleaner.
• If you are unable to wipe away the mould, it is best to replace the drywall.

Carpets and upholstered furniture

If these materials were affected by flood water and mould is visible, they will likely need to be professionally cleaned or discarded. Any mouldy material or item that cannot be effectively cleaned should be sealed in plastic and disposed of. Sponges used for cleaning mould should be discarded after use.