Recover From a Disaster | MEMA

Keep yourself and your family safe and healthy after a disaster.

Recovering from a disaster can be difficult. The information below is meant to help keep you and your family safe and healthy as you begin to get your home, your community, and your life back to normal.

Safety Tips

  • Stay away from downed utility wires. Always assume a downed power line is live. If you see a downed wire, call 9-1-1 to report it.
  • Remember the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Don’t drive through flooded roads.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings and areas and off of roads until authorities deem them safe.
  • If you have evacuated, return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Look before you step. After a storm, the ground and floors can be covered with debris, including broken glass and nails.
  • Avoid entering moving and standing flood waters. Floodwater and mud may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage.
  • Clean and disinfect anything that got wet and take steps to prevent and detect mold. Consider using professional cleaning and repair service after a floods. See more tips to recover from flooding.
  • Listen to news reports to learn if your water supply is safe to drink. Until local authorities say your water supply is safe, boil water for at least one minute before drinking it or using it to prepare food.
  • Throw away food, including canned items, that has come in contact with floodwaters, was exposed to temperatures above 40 °F for more than two hours, or has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!

Power Outages

If your power is out, follow our power outage safety tips.

  • Report power outages to your utility company.
  • Make sure emergency generators or secondary heating systems are well ventilated.
  • Use generators and grills outside because their fumes contain carbon monoxide. Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working as it is a silent, odorless, killer. See more Generator Safety Tips
  • Never plug the generator directly into household wiring.
  • If a traffic light is out, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

Check Your Home for Damage

  • Never touch electrical equipment while you are wet or standing in water. Consider a qualified electrician to assist in assessing damage to electrical systems.
  • Have wells checked for contamination from bacteria and chemicals before using them.
  • Have damaged septic tanks or leaching systems repaired as soon as possible to reduce potential health hazards.
  • If you believe there is a gas leak, go outdoors immediately. Do not turn electrical switches or appliances on or off. If you turned off your gas, you must contact a licensed professional to turn it back on.
  • Take photos or videos to document any damage to your home or property, and contact your insurance company. For information and frequently asked questions about disaster insurance claims, review the Disaster Guide for Consumers or contact the Massachusetts Division of Insurance.
  • If you home requires construction to repair or rebuild, take steps to avoid scams and fraud.

Additional Resources

Coping with Disaster

The emotional effects of a disaster can sometimes be more difficult than the loss of home or property. Seek crisis counseling if you or someone in your family is experiencing issues with disaster-related stress.

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support year round.

  • Call 1-800-985-5990
  • TTY for people with hearing impairments at 1-800-846-8517
  • Text TalkWithUs to 66746

Call 211 for information about available disaster services, shelter information, or referrals for social services.

For more information about signs of disaster-related stress, easing stress, and helping kids cope with disasters, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Mental Health Resources for Traumas & Disasters or the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Coping with Disaster.

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