If you come home to find your house flooded, don’t panic – but be aware that the problem may be more serious than it looks. In this post, we’ll lay out a few of the basic tips and strategies for dealing with flooding, as well as the precautions you should take to prevent unnecessary damage.
One of the most important things to realize is that floodwater, like sewage, can be very dangerous. No matter how clear it looks, floodwater can contain a number of germs, contaminants, and mud. You should actively try to avoid coming into contact with floodwater, and if you do, you should wash your hands with soap and disinfected water as soon as possible.
FEMA, the national organization in charge of disaster response, has made lists containing information on what to do both during and after a flood. In short, you should make sure to stay safe: avoid contact with potentially contaminated floodwater, seek higher ground when you need to, and make sure your utilities and power are off. Additionally, don’t underestimate how powerful flowing water can be. Even a foot or two of water can stop or alter the course of a car – it just takes a few inches of powerful water to knock you off your feet.
After the flood, things get a bit more complicated. FEMA’s list goes into more detail, but the general principle is that you should be extremely cautious – much of the damage that results from flooding can be invisible. Contact your insurance agent about filing a claim as soon as you can. Before going back into a home that has been flooded, you should make sure that it’s structurally sound; similarly, an electrician should inspect your home’s power before turning the power back on. You should boil your water until authorities report that it’s okay to use or drink, and wet or flooded items should be disinfected thoroughly.
The next step is preventing longer-term damage. While much of the damage from flooding is immediate, a flood can set the stage for even more dramatic damage later on. According to FloodSafety.com’s remarkably detailed list on this topic, wallboard that has been “soaked by contaminated floodwater…can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed.” Many absorbent items, such as mattresses, couches, and, sadly, even stuffed animals, should be discarded, too, if they have come in contact with contaminated floodwater. Flooded houses are also at a severely increased risk for mold – you should call a professional to have your mold risk assessed.
Organizing the cleanup operation can be daunting, but many homes are flooded every year, and it is definitely possible to get through the crisis. More than anything else, it is tremendously important that you establish contact with experienced professionals as soon as possible. If you’re in Utah and you’re facing a flooded home, why not call or e-mail us today? We’ll respond, no matter when you reach out to us – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Flooding is traumatic enough – you definitely don’t have to suffer the aftermath alone!