Floods and water damage can occur naturally or due to man-made circumstances. In either case, it’s important to take certain steps to minimize the damage and health risks. When faced with emergency water and flood damage, there are some things it’s a good idea to do—and some things it’s best to avoid—in order to help minimize damage to persons, pets, and property.
While by no means comprehensive, the following suggested list of actions and behaviors may help minimize hazards both before and after water and/or flood damage occurs:
- Verify everyone is safe.The number one priority should be getting everyone to a safe place. Pets need to be confined away in a secure place from contaminated spaces. Children should not be allowed to play in flooded areas. If the flooding is extensive, it’s advisable to find an alternative place to live temporarily.
- Turn off the electricity to flooded areas. It should go without saying, but electricity and water don’t mix. If the flooding is contained in one area, it’s a good idea to turn off electricity to that area. If it is extensive, turning off electricity to the entire house might be a better option.
- Call the insurance company. The sooner someone makes a claim, the more likely he or she is to receive compensation and help sooner. The insurance company might also give advice on what actions to take so as to prevent further damage from occurring.
- Call a flood restoration service. Calling this type of service can help secure homes against further damage and start the restoration process. According to Home Advisors, on a national level, the average cost for drying out a flooded space is a little over $2500. This cost can be lower if the flooded area is small and the water is contained. It can go substantially higher, however, if the flood included sewage and if the flooded space is large. Location of the home and services themselves may also play a factor into pricing.
- Remove as much water as possible. Standing water is a hazard that will continue doing damage while also attracting insects and other pests, among other safety concerns. As such, removing as much water as possible as soon as possible in a safe manner is advisable. One can use pumps to get water out of confined spaces or mops and floor squeegees to move water from the inside to the outside of housing areas.
- Remove dry items from wet areas. If there are any personal items that remain dry and undamaged, remove them to a dry place. The moisture in the air can cause dry items to mold and mildew. This can damage not only the items, but also present health hazards as well.
While by no means comprehensive, the following suggested list on actions and behaviors to avoid may help minimize hazards both before and after water and/or flood damage occurs:
- Do not enter the flooded areas without appropriate safety gear. Quite often it’s hard to see what is lurking under the water. Wearing gear for protection from unseen hazards and contaminates can help prevent accidents from occurring.
- Do not enter flooded areas when the electricity is still on. Again, electricity and water do not mix. Entering flooded areas with the electricity can present health hazards.
- Do not try to use contaminated food, beverages, or medicines. Even clear-looking water from a broken water heater tank can contain contaminants that could be hazardous if ingested. If flood waters have touched food, beverage, or medicines, throw them out. If unsure whether or not something has been contaminated by flood waters, play it safe and do not use them.
- Do not try to disinfect contaminated surfaces with OTC cleaners. Sewage contaminants cannot be completely cleaned with weak household cleansers. In fact, trying to use these cleansers may only spread the contamination around.
- Do not track contaminated water into uncontaminated spaces. The dry, uncontaminated parts of a home need to stay that way. When leaving a contaminated area, it’s a good idea to remove protective gear and any contaminated clothes before entering an uncontaminated area.
- Do not lift tacked-down carpeting without professional help. Soaked carpet can stretch out unless it’s carefully handled. Professionals know how to lift the carpet and start the drying process.
- Do not wait. The longer people wait to remove water and start restoration, the longer they are going to live with it. Plus, time gives mold and mildew the ability to start growing, which is a health hazard.