Short Answer- Don’t rush back in! Just because an evacuation order has ended, doesn’t mean your home is safe for you and your family. Know what to look for so you can assess any risks before giving your family the all clear.

Walk The Perimeter

Walk around the outside of your property and look for damage. Check for things like loose or fallen power cables, damaged gas lines, or cracks in the walls, foundation, or beams. If you have large trees nearby, check to be sure they are stable. If something appears unsafe, do not enter the property.

Sniff And Listen

When you enter the property, sniff around and listen. If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, exit immediately and call the fire department to inspect your property before you return. A ruptured gas line could be extremely dangerous.

Appliance Check

Inspect the cords of any household appliances, toaster, coffee maker, fridge, washers, etc. Be sure they are not frayed or showing any exposed wires. If they are, unplug and do not use. For larger appliances, you may need to call a service company to come out and check the connection if you are not able to.

Damage Check

Walk through every room and assess the damage. Be sure any furniture or other items that have shifted are moved to a safe place. Make note of any broken or shattered glass (but don’t clean it up…yet).

Document Everything!

You may be feeling a little overwhelmed at this point, and that’s normal. But if you want to file an insurance claim, you are going to need to carefully document the damage in your home.

Walk from room to room taking pictures of everything to get a clear visual record of the damage. Take notes on items that are broken, particularly more expensive items like TVs, computers, appliances, etc. Be sure you have everything photographed and noted before any clean-up efforts begin. Later, when it comes time to contact your insurance company, you’ll be glad that you did this.