What To Do After A Flood: The First 24 Hours
Flooding is many homeowners’ worst nightmare. Large amounts of water are difficult and sometimes dangerous to remove from your home, and have the potential to destroy everything they come in contact with. A flood may even force you to evacuate your home, without any way of telling how much damage will await you when you return.
Since a serious flood can cause damage to your home and pose risks to the safety of yourself and family, it is important to know what to do afterwards, and the first 24 hours are crucial. The following steps will make sure that in the event of flooding, you are more prepared to safely handle the aftermath.
Avoid Unnecessary Risk by Only Re-entering Your Home When it is Safe to Do So
If the flooding has caused you to evacuate your home, it is important that you do not re-enter it until authorities have said that it is safe to do so. There are many risks inside a recently flooded home, including power switches left on during flooding, as well as the main electrical panel, and appliances that may have gotten wet. It is safe to re-enter your home only after a qualified electrician has dried and inspected the electrical panel and appliances, and ensured that your home is safe.
Stay Safe by Checking Your Home for Damage
Once it is safe to enter your home and all water and electrical sources have been turned off, the first thing you should do is check for structural damage. This includes foundational elements that have become warped, cracked, or loosened, floors or walls that have buckled, and any visible holes. Taking pictures is an easy way to quickly document damage so you can show it to your insurance company. The sooner you can contact your insurance company to report the damages and any claims you may need to file, the better.
Protect Yourself from Hazardous Water
Any standing water left in your home after a flood may contain chemicals or sewage and poses a risk to your health. Protect yourself from direct contact with the water by wearing rubber boots and gloves. Local regulations will determine whether you will need to discard household items that have been damaged.
Make Sure You Have the Necessary Equipment Before Beginning Clean up
After checking with your insurance company, you may begin to remove any standing water left in your home. Before removing water, it is recommended that you have the following: gloves, masks, buckets, mops, plastic garbage bags, unscented detergent, large containers for soaking clothing and linens, and a clothesline to dry them on. A wet-vac and sump pump will also be necessary if large amounts of water need to be removed. When removing water, exercise caution if carrying heavy buckets up or down stairs.
Prevent Mold Growth with Thorough Cleaning
Mold grows quickly and can become visible in the first 24-48 hours following flooding. All fabrics that have come into contact with water should be moved into a cool, dry area. If items have been wet for less than 48 hours, you may be able to prevent mold growth by cleaning them properly. Bed linens and clothing should be soaked in unscented detergent so as not to mask the smell of possible mold, rugs can be professionally cleaned after they are dried, and hard surfaces should be scrubbed with a mixture of 1 cup borax and 1 gallon of hot water. Large pieces of furniture that cannot be easily cleaned, such as couches, and any porous items that can’t be cleaned should be discarded.
Keep Your Home Protected from Additional Damages
It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that your home is as protected as possible from further damage following a flood. External damage such as broken windows or damaged roofing should be covered carefully. Photos should also be taken of these extra measures to show your insurance company that you have taken all possible measures to protect your home. Finally, don’t stay in your home unless it has been determined habitable.
By installing a flood alarm in your home, you will be notified if water gets anywhere it’s not supposed to be, giving you peace of mind and possibly saving you thousands of dollars in water damage costs.