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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

9.5 Appendix 5 – Things To Do Upon Your Return Home

Logos of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), Norfolk Southern Railroad, and the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, L.L.C. (CTEH)

Operation: Home Safely

Things To Do Upon Your Return Home

When you return to your home, we understand you will have concerns and questions about the safety of your home and belongings. Once you are allowed to go back into your house, the air that you breathe and the water that you drink and bathe in will be safe to use. Medications do not need to be discarded if stored in original, closed containers. The following are housekeeping steps you should take:


  • Notify Norfolk Southern (NS) Systems Claims Office at 1-800-230-7049 for:
    • Electrical problems
    • Animal or pet needs
  • Open doors and windows or run your heater/AC system for 30 minutes to circulate air.
  • Run water from your kitchen tap for 2 minutes and flush all toilets to clear stagnant water.
  • Additional things you may want to do: change the air intake filters in your heat and air system; wash clothing and bedding that was in the home; wipe off/wash children's playthings, wash animal bedding, and wipe/wash kitchen counters with water or mild soap. No special actions are needed for children, elderly residents or pregnant women. All items can be disposed with household trash.
  • Mail delivery: The United States Post Office will resume regular mail delivery once the roads are re-opened. Therefore, nothing is required on your Part.

Food Items:  When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

  • Keep: Canned, unopened pre-packaged, frozen and refrigerated foods.
  • Throw out: opened, unprotected food items left out in the open and any other items that could have spoiled while you were not home. If you lost power, refrigerated foods may have spoiled and you should throw out frozen foods that have thawed.

For questions regarding safety of a food item, you may contact SCDHEC at 642-1637 or the USDA Hotline at 1-800-535-4555.

When in doubt, throw it out!

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014