After an Emergency

The recovery process includes the actions you take to repair and restore your life after an emergency or disaster. Knowing what to do after an emergency can help reduce stress and support a quicker recovery.

Examples of recovery can include the following:

  • removing waste and debris
  • contacting your insurance company
  • replacing lost or destroyed documentation
  • finding a new home
  • getting mental health support

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Returning Home After an Emergency

Depending on the emergency, returning home may be difficult and traumatic. Floods, tornadoes and fires can destroy your valuables, keepsakes and home. In other emergencies, there could be mould or toxic residues that make your home unliveable.

If you had to evacuate, you can’t return home until authorities tell you it is safe to do so. In some cases, re-entry can involve a brief return home only to inspect damages. Authorities may notify you using the contact information you shared when registering at a reception centre.

Before homeowners are allowed to return to their homes, the area must be deemed safe, and must have heating, water, sewer and communications. In areas serviced by wells, groundwater needs to be inspected to make sure it has not been affected.

When not to enter your home

Do not enter your home or property if any of the following apply:

  • an expert has not deemed it safe to do so
  • any part of the structure has collapsed
  • the structure is off its foundation
  • the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding

When re-entering your home, use extreme caution at all times. This is especially true if there are holes in the floor, broken glass and/or dangerous debris.

What to do When you Return Home

Authorities may give specific instructions for things you need to do when you return home. Below is a list of possible actions you could take:

  • Work with your insurance company to make informed decisions about your home and needed repairs.
  • Have your home inspected to ensure power, water and gas have been restored and there are no leaks.
  • Have your home inspected for safety if the emergency was severe, since structural damage may not be visible. 
  • Keep fridges and deep freezes sealed if power was off during an evacuation. Follow instructions of authorities and/or your insurance company for removal and disposal.
  • In case of flooding, ensure proper ventilation in case of water damage inside your walls. 
  • Do not put yourself at risk by moving heavy items without help or by overworking to get things done. 
  • Seek medical help immediately if you become overwhelmed or stressed by your tasks ahead.

Specific actions are needed after a flood. Learn what steps you need to take when returning home after a flood.