Return to your home

Return to your home when authorized to do so

If the return has been authorized and your safety is not in jeopardy, you may return home.

General instructions

Return to your home during the day, when it is easier to see problems and hazards. If your home has been damaged, take photos of or film the damage. Notify your insurer, to have the damage recorded. Call the financial institution that granted you a mortgage loan, to declare the damage. Keep the receipts of all your cleaning-related expenses.

If extensive work must be carried out before you can return home, secure the premises to keep away looters and curious bystanders:

  • Barricade the windows.
  • Lock the doors.
  • Cover damaged areas.

For evaluation, cleaning or disinfection services, or repair work following a disaster, choose recognized specialized firms.

To replace cards, permits, licences or certificates issued by government departments and bodies, you may:

After a prolonged power failure

If you return home after a prolonged power failure:

  • Turn on the heating appliances and plug in the electrical devices gradually. Call on a specialist if equipment is damaged. Until service is permanently restored, use backup equipment according to manufacturer instructions and take the necessary precautions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Sort the food (in French only) that was in the refrigerator and freezer, and throw away any food that shows signs of deterioration.
  • Do not take medication that was in the refrigerator. Return it to the drugstore to be destroyed.
  • Call on a master pipe-mechanic (in French only) who has the skills and tools necessary to thaw pipes, if needed.
  • Replace the items you used in your emergency kit.
Haut de page 

After a flood or storm surge

If you return home after a flood or storm surge:

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Do not heat your home temporarily using a gas-fuelled appliance, such as a range, backup heating system, camping heater or barbecue. These appliances can produce carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that is invisible and odourless. It can cause irreversible damage or death. Only a carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the presence of this gas.

If you plan on using a combustion device, such as a pump or high pressure washer, make sure you use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector, because these can also produce carbon monoxide.

Know how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and learn how to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Find out if your water is drinkable

Once the flood water has receded, find out if your water is drinkable, i.e. it is fit for consumption. In case of uncertainty as to the colour, odour or taste of the water, contact the municipal authorities before using it.

Disinfect and test your private well

If you have a private well, disinfect it and have your water tested.

Protect yourself against tetanus

Before beginning the clean-up, make sure that you are protected against tetanus. This is recommended for disaster victims, their families and volunteers who may be injured while working in recently flooded areas.

To maintain adequate protection, it is necessary to be vaccinated every 10 years. For more information, call Info-Santé at 811.

Top of page 

Clean your home

Within 24 to 48 hours after a flood or as soon as you return home after an evacuation, you must clean, disinfect and dry all objects and surfaces that were damaged by water, in particular to avoid the growth of mould. For effective and safe cleaning, make sure that you take the following steps in order:

  1. Wear the necessary protection equipment (mask, rubber gloves and boots, protective clothing and glasses) so that water and soiled materials do not come in contact with the skin, eyes or mouth.
  2. Open the windows and doors to air out the rooms and lower the humidity to less than 50 %.
  3. Surfaces and objects that may have been in contact with soiled water should be washed with ammonia-free soap and clean hot water. Rinse with clean water. While cleaning, make sure that you:
      • Discard all porous materials (carpets, insulation, gypsum plasterboard, etc.) that are damp or that were in contact with flood water. Also discard any objects that cannot be adequately cleaned or whose stuffing was soaked (mattresses, pillows, cushions, stuffed toys, etc.) in order to prevent mould from developing or to prevent exposure to certain microorganisms.
      • Open the walls and remove drywall, paneling and insulation to at least 50 centimeters (20 inches) above the high-water line. Wait for everything to dry before repairing.
      • Discard all appliances with filters or insulation if they were in contact with water (refrigerator, freezer, water heater, dishwasher, etc.).
      • Discard food that was in contact with flood water. Discard any damaged, open or bulging food tins.
      • Discard medication, cosmetics and other toiletries that may have been in contact with flood water.
      • Discard wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers that may have been in contact with flood water.
      • During the cleanup, change your clothing every day and wash it separately from other clothes.
  4. Disinfect surfaces and objects that may have been in contact with soiled water. Do this with a mixture of water and bleach. Depending on the surfaces to disinfect, mix the recommended quantity of bleach and water. Consult the following table for the required quantity of bleach at 5 % or 6 % concentration.
      • Surfaces and objects that come into contact with food (for example, counter, plates, etc.) : 1 teaspoon (5 ml) for 4 litres (1 gallon)
      • Surfaces and objects that do not absorb water (for example, floors, ovens, sinks, certain toys, tools, undamaged food tins, etc.) : 3 tablespoons (45 ml) for 4 litres (1 gallon)
      • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other detergents.
  5. Allow washed and disinfected surfaces and objects to air dry.
Top of page 

Clean your yard

Take the following precautions when cleaning your yard:

  • Never touch downed power lines or electrical installations. If you notice a downed power line, call  Hydro-Québec at 1 800 790-2424.
  • Carefully remove all debris from your yard.
  • Do not reuse sand from sandbags or dikes to fill a sandbox, for example. Contact your municipality to find out how to get rid of it.

Protect yourself against infections during cleaning work

For the duration of the clean-up of your house or yard, wear rubber gloves and use bleach-free cleaning products to avoid toxic chemical reactions. Keep water and contaminated materials away from your skin, eyes and mouth. Change clean-up clothes every day and wash them separately from other clothes.

Eliminate mould

Mould may develop after flooding. A large amount of mould may generate airborne breathable spores and compounds that can create health problems.

  • Be on the lookout for musty, earthy or alcohol-like odours, as well as the appearance of greenish/blackish stains on walls or ceilings, or in cupboards.
  • Discard porous materials that may contain mould.
  • On small, easily washable surfaces, remove mould using a domestic bleach-free cleaning product, following the manufacturer's instructions. Dry the surface thoroughly.
  • For more extensive cleaning, call on the services of a specialized contractor.

For more information, consult the website of the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.

If you develop any health problems, see a physician without delay.

Observe the following before eating fruits and vegetables from the garden

If your garden was flooded, discard all above-ground fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries and lettuce. Carefully clean any vegetables grown underground, such as potatoes and carrots.

Observe the following when disposing of a dead animal

To dispose of a dead animal, pick the animal up using a shovel or towel and put it in a durable plastic bag. Close the bag tightly before putting it in a second plastic bag, which you must also tightly close. Put the bag in a trash can that will be emptied during regular garbage collection.

Clean the items you used to handle the animal and wash your hands with warm water and soap;

Contact your municipality if you find the remains of an animal too big to be put in a plastic bag.

Top of page 

After major exposure to smoke

If you return after a significant amount of smoke in the home, take those actions:

Eliminate dust and soot from the home

Wear gloves to be safe, and eliminate smoke and soot using soap and water. Thoroughly clean children’s toys, as well as items frequently touched. Using a broom or vacuum cleaner is not recommended, since they displace dust rather than remove it.

Rid the home of unpleasant odours

Properly air out the rooms for several hours. If odours persist, contact your municipality.

Clean clothing or other textiles that give off an odour

Wash clothing as you do normally. Consult a clothing and textile cleaning specialist to clean fabric items, such as stuffed toys, that are very soiled or that give off strong odours.

Observe the following before eating fruits and vegetables from the garden

Discard all fruits and vegetables that show signs of alteration or that smell of smoke. Before eating fruits and vegetables with soot or dust particles on them:

  • Clean the fruits and vegetables and rinse them with drinking water.
  • If possible, peel the food.
  • Remove the outside leaves of lettuce.

Other useful link

Top of page ​​

Social media

Urgence Québec Twitter page

Urgence Québec Facebook page

Publications Facebook