If your home has been affected by a flood, the steps you take immediately thereafter can make all the difference in the final effects of your water damage cleanup process. While you might be eager to get back into the house when the immediate threat has passed, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are a few tips to help you safely address the aftermath of the flood in your home.
Start With an Exterior Assessment
Before you go into the house, you need to take a few minutes to evaluate the outside of the house for any potential safety hazards. For example, look for any power lines that may have come down or outlets that are at risk of water exposure. You should also check for any visibly damaged gas lines, and smell for the odor of natural gas in the air. If there's a gas leak as a result of the flood, you'll need to address it right away.
Reach out to your electric company or gas supplier if you notice either of these problems, because those things will need to be resolved right away. If you still have any standing water on the property, you also need to check the condition of the outer foundation and building walls for any signs of cracking or other failure. Don't go into the house if there's any structural damage visible.
Disconnect Electricity and Gas
Once you've cleared the property of any electrical or gas hazards, it's time to shut off the supply of both. By disconnecting your electricity, you'll protect yourself from the risk of electrocution. Even if the power is out in the area, the breaker panel's main fuse may still be on, and if the power company restores service to the area unexpectedly, you may face the risk of an electric shock due to the water. Shutting off the gas is important as well, because it reduces the risk of explosions from an accumulation of fumes.
If you cannot shut off the power or the gas unless you go inside the house, you need to be sure that the area where the shut-off controls are is dry. If there's water in those areas, you'll want to wait until the water has been pumped out before you go in. This is the best way to ensure your safety.
Always Wear Appropriate Protective Gear
Before you go into the house, make sure that you have all of the necessary protective gear to keep yourself safe. There are several things that you should be sure to wear.
- Boots – Waterproof rubber boots or hard-soled waders are the best bet for working around a flooded property. These are ideal for protecting you from the water and from any hazardous debris that may be on the ground.
- Dust Masks – Any time you work in an area that's experienced water damage, you need a dust mask. Look for at least 95-micron dust masks, because they filter out mold spores as well as other small particles.
- Protective Gloves – Look for heavy-duty rubber gloves to wear any time you're working in the house or around the property. Since flood waters can contain and spread all kinds of contaminants, this is essential for your health and well-being.
Dry Things Out Properly
If you don't get your home dried out properly, you risk having mold spores growing in hidden corners and inside the walls. Work with a water damage restoration service to dry out the interior of the house. Use industrial fans and a few dehumidifiers to eliminate the moisture, because the combination of the two is highly effective at drying out the space. Make sure that you also remove any wet furnishings, clothing or other material until everything is dry.
Sanitize the Surfaces
Once everything is dry, you should treat the surfaces in the house, including the walls, floors and all of the cupboards, with a spray bleach solution. Your water damage cleanup company will tell you how to mix the bleach solution for optimal disinfection. This step will help prevent harmful bacteria and mold spores from spreading throughout the house.