Flooded Homes

Safety & Sanitation Instructions

In the event of flood damage to a home, it is important to document everything. Take pictures or video before and during the flood if possible, immediately after the flood, and both during and after clean-up. This will help you receive the insurance reimbursement to which you may be entitled.


If the home has been vacated, do not move the family back until there is:

  • Electricity
  • An adequate water supply
  • Toilet facilities available
  • Heating system in working order
  • Clean, dry bedding available

Note: Do not bring children into the flood area during cleanup!

Not Vacated

If the home has not been vacated during the flood period, wash or flush down walls and floors as fast as the flood waters recede.

Safe Water Supply

In order to clean up a flooded home, adults (no children) may return but should take a supply of safe drinking water with them in clean bottles or jugs. If possible, obtain water from a municipal source. In the event that municipal water cannot be obtained and water must be obtained from a private well outside the flood area, be sure to disinfect it with one of the common liquid laundry bleaches, such as Clorox or Roman Cleanser, etc., by adding three or four drops to each one gallon of water. Mix and let stand for thirty minutes. This treatment will make the water safe; however, a chlorinous taste should be noticed.

Water from wells and cisterns located in the flooded areas is unsafe and should not be used for drinking or cooking, brushing teeth, dish washing or clothes washing unless boiled for one minute or treated with chlorine.

Electric & Gas Utilities

  • Be cautious when entering a flooded basement. Electrical outlets and gas lines can be very dangerous. Have the Utility Service Department shut off the electricity and gas lines if possible.
  • Do not handle any connected electrical cords or appliances if the current is still on. Get assistance before attempting to disconnect cords or open the fuse box in a flooded basement.
  • Do not light a match in an enclosed area where gas could be present. Check all affected pilot lights or burners on gas-fired or oil-fired appliances before placing them back in service.
  • If electricity is connected to an appliance which has had the motor controls submerged, do not attempt to start in until you have consulted your appliance service company or dealer.


While a basement is still flooded, avoid flushing toilets or using other plumbing fixtures whose discharge would increase the hazard or make the basement or home more difficult to clean.

Clean Up

  • After the flood waters recede, drain surface pools by ditching and pumping.
  • Drain all flooded basements by natural drainage or by pumping.
  • Wash or flush down walls and floors, if possible, during the drainage or pumping process.
  • As a final clean-up of walls, floors, cupboards, dishes, etc., use plenty of soap or dish washing compound. Use warm or hot water if possible.
  • Areas may be disinfected by use of Lysol or chlorine solution. Use 8 tablespoons or half a cup Clorox or Roman cleanser per gallon of water. Caution: Never mix bleach with ammonia - the fumes are toxic!
  • During the clean-up period of flooded areas, provide as much ventilation as possible by opening windows, and use fans if electricity is available.
  • Clothing, carpets, upholstered furniture, toys, bedding, and similar items should be appropriately discarded unless they are cleaned and disinfected. Some salvage companies are equipped to process contaminated materials. Discarded clothing should not be left accessible to unauthorized scavengers.
  • Movable objects should be put outdoors to dry and be exposed to sunlight.
  • After cleaning the basement, the individual should make sure that all clothing and parts of the body which come in contact with the sewage are thoroughly washed. Prevent the tracking of flood residue into the living quarters of the house.
  • Monitor areas that were flooded for mold growth. Visit Washtenaw County's mold information page.

Food Safety

  • Discard all bottled goods sealed with crimped caps that were in the flood. Destroy the contents to make certain that no one else will use the bottled goods.
  • Discard all vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions, and others which were in contact with the flood water
  • Canned fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed. Wash the outside of the can with soap and hot water, using a brush around the covers and rubber rings. The cans and jars should then be immersed in chlorinated water for at least 15 minutes using the same strength solution as recommended for cleaning.
  • Food stored in a refrigerator where the electricity has been off for more than 24 hours or where flood waters have risen above the door opening should be discarded.
  • Food stored in a deep freeze unit where the electricity has been off for more than 72 hours should be examined carefully. Food that has not reached a temperature of 40F or above could be refrozen and used without endangering health. However, the flavor and texture might be damaged. Frozen food with a temperature above 40F should be discarded. Food in a freezer where the door or lid has been submerged in flood water should be discarded if there is evidence that water has entered the freezer compartment.
  • Any discarded food or vegetables should be placed in a covered, vermin proof receptacle until final pick-up or disposal.

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