Step Three

Give Your House Some First Aid

As you repair and rebuild, take any steps you can to reduce or eliminate damage from future disasters. In many cases, the steps are easy and inexpensive. If a water heater is ruined, install the new one off the floor so it is not vulnerable the next time. While you're at it, have the main electrical panel moved to a better location.


Drain your basement carefully. If you try to drain your basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls once the water is drained. This unequal pressure may cause the walls and floor to crack and collapse. To drain your basement properly:

  • Pump the water level down two to three feet from where it is currently. Mark the level and wait overnight.
  • Check the water level the next day. If the water went back up (it covered your mark), it's still too early to drain your basement. Wait 24 hours and then pump the water down two to three feet again. Check the level the next day.
  • When the water stops going back up, pump down another two to three feet and wait overnight. Repeat steps two and three until all the water is pumped out of the basement.


Make sure the power is turned off. If you have any doubts, ask the power company or an electrician to turn the power off at your home. The electricity must be turned off at the main breaker box or fuse box. When using portable generators, you should always remember to:

  • Connect appliances one at a time to the generator. Never a hook a generator directly to your household wiring yourself. Only a qualified electrician can do this.
  • Use generators outdoors only. They give off deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Avoid using extension cords with generators. If you must use them, make sure they have adequate capacity and check them often to make sure they have not become hot.


Turn off the gas. If you suspect a leak or smell gas, call the gas company and then go to a neighbor's house. Leave your door open. If the gas meter is outside, turn off the gas from there. Air out your house completely as there may be explosive gas.


Shovel out as much mud as possible first. With the power off, hose the house down and start the clean up.

Next Step to Recovery

Step Four: Dry Out Your Home