After an emergency and when you return to your home, several actions must be taken to ensure your safety and the sustainability of your home.

Returning to your home

After an evacuation, you can return home if the authorities allow it and your safety is not compromised. It's best to go during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see.

Do not enter your home or any other building that has suffered significant damage. If in doubt, consult specialist contractors with valid licenses.

For a safe return to normal

After an emergency, take certain precautions to help your return to normal.

Walk around your house to identify any issues (e.g. electrical lines on the ground, smell of gas, large pieces of debris, hot spots that could ignite).

Identify signs that could indicate structural issues (for example: weakened roof sections, damaged framing, buckled walls, cracks in the ceilings, weakened floors, doors that no longer close). If you have any doubts, call specialized contractors with valid licenses.

Make a list of the damage and take photos or videos as proof. Notify your municipality, insurance company and mortgage lender of the damage. For claim purposes, keep all receipts or proofs of purchase for damaged property.

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

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

Choose recognized specialized firms for evaluation, cleaning or disinfection services, or repair work. Keep all the receipts related to those expenses.

Possible reactions and psychosocial support available

Pay attention to your reactions and those of your loved ones after experiencing a disaster:

  • Anxiety, distress or frequent crying
  • Apathy or loss of energy
  • Aggressiveness
  • Difficulty concentrating or confusion
  • Increased alcohol or drug use

Psychosocial support is available to you. Psychosocial intervention professionals are available to support, advise and direct you to resources tailored to your needs or those of your loved ones. Call Info-Social, at 811, and select option 2 to speak with a professional. This service is free and confidential, and it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information on the possible reactions after a disaster and on ways to help you, see the Getting better following a disaster page.

Electricity and natural gas

If your power was cut by Hydro-Québec, only a master electrician can ask Hydro-Québec to restore it.

If your power was not cut, but there was water infiltration in your home, consult a master electrician This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) before restoring the power. The electrician will tell you what condition your home’s electrical system is in and perform the necessary repair work.

Consult a specialist before turning heating systems back on.

Consult a certified natural gas contractor before turning natural gas-powered equipment This hyperlink will open in a new window. back on.

Consumption and use of water

Find out whether your water is drinkable, i.e. fit for consumption. In case of uncertainty as to the colour, odour or taste of your water, contact the municipal authorities before using it.

If you have a private well, have your well water tested This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) by an accredited laboratory if you notice sudden changes in the water’s taste, odour, or appearance.

If you suspect chemical contamination, do not drink the water. Moreover, boiling water exposed to chemical contamination, especially hydrocarbons, is not recommended. In that situation, drink only bottled water.

Food and medications

If the power has been off more than six hours, check the quality of food before eating it. Throw out any food that shows signs of deterioration. Consult Store or throw away your food after a power outage or flood (French only) for information on deciding what to keep and what to throw out from your refrigerator and freezer.

For the same reason, do not take any medications that must be stored in a cool place but were not. Return them to the pharmacy.

Septic systems

Septic systems

Take the necessary precautions to ensure that your septic system This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) meets applicable standards.

Cleaning your home and yard

A number of actions need to be taken to effectively clean your home and yard following a disaster. Consult Cleaning your home and your yard This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) for the usual instructions and recommendations.

Protect yourself against abusive practices

Be wary of salespersons and contractors who might take advantage of the emergency situation or your distress to increase their prices, for example. You must promptly contact the Office de la protection du consommateur This hyperlink will open in a new window. or your municipality to report such practices.

If you must have work done in the wake of a disaster, first discuss the matter with your insurer to agree on the amounts granted. Once you are fully informed, avoid signing any agreement while in an emotional state.

If you are unable to pay suppliers’ or creditors’ invoices because of the situation, contact the customer service offices of your suppliers or your financial institution in order to make arrangements.

Financial assistance

See the list of disasters for which assistance may be payable This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) and information about the financial assistance program (French only).

Government programs and services

If you need to replace your cards, licenses or certificates issued by government departments and agencies or if you need information on government programs and services, contact Services Québec.

Last update: June 16, 2022

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