A flood can be one of the most devastating experiences for a homeowner. Whether from a burst pipe or severe weather, sorting through the damage afterward is often heartbreaking. It’s important to get to work immediately because a mold problem could begin to develop in as little as 24 hours. To help keep you prepared, let’s go over a few of the essential steps to take in the event your home is flooded.
First things first, when dealing with severe weather, it’s vital no one returns to the home until it has been deemed safe by authorized personnel. Water levels can be unpredictable in a flood or hurricane making roads and bridges unsafe. What’s more, there could be hazards from electricity, utility lines and gas tanks. Before going back to the property, prepare yourself emotionally and follow the directions from the authorities. It would help if you also equip yourself with protective gear — rubber boots, a hard hat, face mask and gloves.
If the issue is plumbing related, the first step is to address the source. You’ll want to turn off the water to prevent further damage. It’s also advised to turn off the electricity and gas in your home. Wear proper equipment when turning these utilities off and only do so from a dry area. If the breaker box is in a wet area or there are similar hazards, get help. Once the area is secure, contact a professional to repair the piping and restore the water function.
Regardless of the cause, it’s recommended to hire someone to perform a water damage inspection at this time. These water damage restoration professionals can address any potential long-term safety hazards and structural problems before they worsen or become permanent. Depending on the flood’s severity, performing this inspection yourself may be unsafe as the home could be unstable or hazardous due to contaminated water.
How can you tell if water is contaminated? Generally speaking, you may be able to tell by the color. White water is typically regarded as safe to remove while gray or black water is considered hazardous and should be handled by a professional. During the inspection, the structure’s stability should be determined and all the damage should be documented. Pictures with time stamps are best for insurance purposes.
Speaking of insurance, the next step is to contact your insurance companies. If there was vehicle damage, it needs to be reported to your auto insurance company. For the home, contact your flood insurance if you have it as well as your homeowners or renters insurance company. Be sure to gather essential documents to help with insurance purposes and supporting life away from the house.
As action needs to be taken quickly, begin removing any water from the house, especially any standing water. Use a sump pump, mops, dehumidifiers and other gear to get the water out immediately. Sterilization as soon as possible should also be prioritized to prevent the incubation of mold spores.
For further information on addressing a house flood, please see the accompanying resource.