Entering your damaged home after an emergency

If there was structural damage, you might not be able to go in or near your home until a qualified person says it is safe. Even if the damage was small and your home is safe to enter, it can still be unsafe to live in. This can be a difficult and emotional experience. Make sure you work with your insurance provider to measure the damage and collect your valuables.

Safety tips for moving around

  • Wait at least 24 hours after an incident before entering your home to allow toxic gases to lessen and other hazards to become visible. If you’re unsure, contact 311 to have the air quality measured.
  • Wear the correct personal protective equipment including hard-soled footwear, gloves, removable outerwear and breathing protection.
  • Be careful when moving around. The structure and fixed and loose items may have become unstable. Open closets and cupboards carefully.
  • Be cautious of soft floors, exposed nails, broken glass, hazardous materials and electrical wires.
  • Carry a flashlight and camera (your utilities may still be turned off).
  • If you have a home storage safe, wait until it is cool to the touch before opening. Safes can stay hot inside for a long time and the contents may ignite if opened too soon.

Keep your property safe and secure

Once the incident is stable, the Fire Department gives control of the property to the insurance company or the owner. Understand what your policy covers and work with your Insurance Adjustor to:

  • Go over concerns about security (e.g. unauthorized entry to your property).
  • Prevent further damage (damage that happens after the incident may not be covered by your insurance). Additional damage can occur from:
    • Holes in the structure leaving it open to the elements
    • Water remaining inside
    • Freezing water lines
    • Loss of power
    • Etc.
  • Reconnect your utilities (gas, water, electricity) that may have been turned off for safety reasons.
  • Make a list of the damages to your home and belongings.

Notify people about your living arrangements

If it will take more time to properly repair your home, consider sharing your temporary address and contact information with:

  • Canada Post
  • Your employer
  • Family and friends
  • Schools
  • Government assistance (if you receive benefits)

Take care of your mental health

You and your family are going through a difficult experience. It can be difficult to notice signs of stress or understand your emotions. Make sure you ask for help when you need it.

  • Talk to loved ones about how you are feeling.
  • Seek mental health help and/or spiritual support (if needed).
  • Practice healthy habits: get enough rest, eat nutritious food, take time off from work.
  • Talk to your family doctor or call 211 for a list of resources.

Find tips for the next stage of recovery