If you are preparing to return home after recent flooding, Emergency Management BC asks that you take precautions for your personal safety.
Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Flood water can carry raw sewage and disease, cause mould and turn food into sources of dangerous bacteria.
When your local or First Nations government has declared it safe for you to return home, there are steps you can take to make this transition easier and safer.
If you can enter your home only once, remove valuables and take steps to secure your property.
If you are safely able to return for longer:
- Bring supplies like flashlights, tools, drinking water, gloves, garbage bags and a first-aid kit.
- Walk around the perimeter before entering, noting electrical wiring, any gas smell or debris that could fall. Enter cautiously, and check that the main power breaker is off.
- Use generators only outdoors. Do not connect to a household circuit.
- Note sewage and water damage. Your septic system or sump pump may not work without power, and water may not be safe to consume.
- Do not use your sewage disposal system unless you know it is capable of handling waste.
- If using propane, gas or heating oil, contact suppliers for inspection and service.
- All electrical wiring in buildings that has been partially or fully covered by flood water must be checked by a qualified electrician or electrical inspector before being brought back into service. Any loose wires should be considered "live," and are a definite hazard.
- If water levels rose enough to cover the gas meter, call your local gas provider to check your meter and regulator before using your gas system.
- Use caution when removing building materials and furniture that have become wet with flood water to prevent exposure to mould. Failure to remove contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks, such as respiratory disease and allergic reactions.
Food and drinking water safety
Food can be damaged by unsafe temperatures, flood water and loss of power. Discard spoiled food and food that has been stored in a refrigerator that has lost power. When in doubt, throw it out!
- If your freezer has been without power for more than three days, discard the contents.
- Discard foods exposed to flood water, as well as damaged, dented or bulging cans.
- Photograph all food in your fridge, and any foods you discard. The information may be required for insurance purposes.
- Do not drink tap water unless local officials have assured you that it is safe for drinking. If you are on a well or cistern that has been damaged, assume the water is not safe to drink, and contact your local authority for instructions.
- In the event that public water supplies are contaminated, a water notification will be issued. Notifications can include a “boil water notice,” a “water quality advisory,” or a “do not use notice.”
Repairing your home
- If your home can be repaired, look for a reputable contractor to help with restoration.
- Verify the track record of any builder, dealing with only licensed contractors.
- Contact your local authority about submitting plans and getting a building permit. Damage to utilities must be repaired under permit and inspected.
- Ask for a written estimate and, before work begins, a copy of the final, signed contract.
- Pay only by cheque or credit card. Consider a holdback that’s payable upon completion.
- If you live in a First Nations community, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is able to cover the costs of repairing homes and buildings, as identified in recovery plans submitted by the local First Nations government. If private insurance is in place, generally that coverage comes first. Where there is no insurance, the INAC recovery plan takes effect.
- Review your policy to understand what items to list, then take an inventory for your claim.
- Take photos or videos, noting serial numbers if possible, and the approximate cost.
- Notify your mortgage company, and inform them about restoration of your property.
- If you have questions about your home insurance, call your insurance representative.
If you have livestock that has been relocated
- Contact your local government Emergency Operations Centre regarding number and location of relocated livestock.
- Inspect your farm for hazards and damage, secure the site and contact your insurance provider.
- Assess the situation to determine if you have the ability to feed, water, shelter and safely contain your livestock.
- Assess the condition and safety of buildings, equipment and other infrastructure.
- Check on the status of stored fuels and other hazardous materials.
- Evaluate and document damage to equipment, structures and fences, ensuring the integrity of fences before livestock is returned.
- Animals should not be returned to your farm until the evacuation alert is lifted.
For flood-related information, evacuation alerts and orders, visit: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca
Or follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EmergencyInfoBC
Your water supplier may issue a Boil Water Notice or Do Not Consume advisory based on the health risks. A current list of water advisories and notices is available online: www.drinkingwaterforeveryone.ca/
For information from Interior Health on cleaning up after a flood, visit: www.interiorhealth.ca/YourEnvironment/Emergency/FloodsLandslides/Pages/default.aspx
The PreparedBC Flood Information for Homeowners and Home Buyers guide: http://ow.ly/t4lg30bttjr
Floodwaters can quickly wash out roads and bridges. Be prepared and plan an alternative route. For the latest road conditions: www.drivebc.ca