damaged foundationOnce an area has been cleared for you to return, stay out of any buildings where floodwaters remain. Avoid using candles or open flames. Instead, use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to reduce fire hazards.

Before entering, examine walls, floors, doors, windows and staircases to see if the building has shifted. Inspect foundations for washed-out soil, cracks and other damage. These are indicators that the building may no longer be safe.

Once you have determined the structure is sound, look for fire hazards. Broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged gas or electric appliances can all pose fire hazards.

Flammable materials such as gasoline can travel on floodwaters, and explosive gases can collect in confined areas.

If you hear any blowing or hissing noises, immediately leave the building and call 911.

Learn more at your local extension center or online at

“Resources for Your Flooded Home,” a 24-page guide from MU Extension, is available for free download at

Adapted by permission from West Virginia University.