If you or someone you know has experienced flooding due to Hurricane Sandy, it is critical be cautious before entering or cleaning your property. Follow these important steps issued by the Red Cross for what to do when you return home after a flood.


- Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.


- Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.


- Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.


- Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.


- If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.


- If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.


- Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.


- Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.


- During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.


- Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!


- Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.


- Contact your local or state public health department for specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a disaster as water may be contaminated.

For local help, visit 211.org or call 211 for help with New Jersey relief and resources. For more information on disaster and emergency preparedness, visit RedCross.org.