Did you know that floods kill more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning combined? They also wreak havoc on businesses and homes, requiring repair and installation of new structures, furnishing, and new dry walls. If your commercial property or home has been flooded, your primary concern should be your safety and that of your loved ones. Keep off the flooded areas until government officials give you the go-ahead to return to your home. When you return to your home, ensure you have emergency supplies and enough cash with you. Also, call utility companies like water damage restoration contractors and notify your insurance company about the unfortunate flooding.
The next step that you should take is to inspect your home and assess the damage. Check for visible structural damage like loose or cracked foundations, holes, and warping. Watch your steps because you can easily slip and fall. Be extra cautious when you are around appliances, electrical equipment, and gas lines. Premature use of these appliances and equipment could lead to explosions and electrical shocks. Even if the power is not operational, put on plastic boots before walking to the fuse box to turn off the main switch and other individual fuse connections. In so doing, you avoid getting electrocuted in case the power is reactivated when you are standing on water that is in contact with electrical appliances.
Also, keep in mind that wet items are usually heavy. Do not hurt yourself by moving them around without the assistance of professionals or other people who may extend a helping hand. To avoid additional risks to your health, inspect and remove contaminated materials. Ensure that you wear rubber gloves when removing water-damaged possessions. You should also wear waders and waterproof boots. Throw out the food that is contaminated by flood water. Even if the water is clear, do not consume it. Household chemicals or sewage could contaminate it. Boil drinking water until the authorities declare the water in your house as safe for consumption.
• The Effects of Flooding to Your Home.
Regardless of the cause of the flood, be it a water system malfunction, groundwater, or falling water, the damage to your property is all the same. Look out for damage in the following items.
i) Solid wood: Furniture and solid wood items tend to warp and crack after floods. They can be saved by making sure they completely dry out.
ii) Floor Covering: Most laminated coverings and carpets will have to be disposed of after a flood. Professional cleaners can save valuable carpets and small rugs. Such coverings should immediately be removed from the site.
iii) Drywall and wallboards: These porous materials are very fragile in floods because of their water absorption sponge-like feature. Even if you manage to save some after the flooding, ensure you thoroughly check for contamination to avoid compromising your health as well as that of your loved ones.
iv) Laminated wood and particle board: These materials need replacement because they tend to separate and weaken after they are exposed to water.
v) Plaster: Although plaster may not need replacement, it may be long before it dries out. However, if you notice that your plaster is cracked or wrapped, you will have to replace it.
vi) Electrical wirings and pipes: Floods can strip electrical wirings and break pipes. If you notice any damages in these appliances, seek the help of a contractor if you lack the required knowledge and skill to fixing them.
vii) Appliances: Appliances tend to be shortened out during floods. This can lead to explosive gases leaking into the air. Ensure all appliances are checked and cleaned by professionals before using them.
viii) Framings and wood studs: After drying, these solids pillars may not need replacement. Make sure you disinfect all of them. After disinfection, they pose no threat because they are usually far from human contact.
ix) HVAC: When air conditioner units and heaters are flooded, their douse pilot lights and internal electrical systems can be damaged. They can also be muddied. If so, seek the services of an expert. Additionally, flooding can contaminate your venting systems. If this happens, take them apart and hose off every piece to prevent the circulation of contaminated air in your house.
• What to Not to Do and What to Do in the Event of a Flood.
What to do.
i. Inspect to see if you will find foundation cracks and damaged power lines. Inspect the gas lines and smell for gas.
ii. Turn off power and water outlets.
iii. Look for shifted stairs, broken pilings, slanted walls, and floors.
iv. Beware of insects, snakes, and rodents that might have come with flooded waters.
What Not to Do.
i. Do not walk on floors above sagging ceilings or sagging floors.
ii. If you notice that the ceilings are wet, do not turn on the lights or the ceiling fans.
iii. Do not use electrical appliances.
iv. If the structural damage is significant, do not enter your business premises or home.
During the flood, you should:
i. Listen for alerts via television, radio or text for latest storm info. In case you lose power, ensure that your smartphone is charged so that you can receive calls or alerts for help.
ii. If you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately after shutting all utilities.
iii. Don’t drive or walk through floodwaters. Move to high grounds and avoid rising waters at all cost.
iv. Keep off from electrical wires and downed power lines.
v. During winter, ensure that your home’s foundation is clear of snow.
vi. Ensure that your drains are clear of debris and leaves.
vii. Make use of rain barrels to catch runoff.
viii. Replace or repair your roof shingles if they are missing or deteriorating.
ix. Consult with licensed plumbers to make sure that foundation drains are in working orders.
x. To minimize soil erosion, landscape your gardens and yards with vegetation and plants.
xi. To keep water away from basement walls, make sure you properly grade your lot.
• Water Damage Cleanup Dos and Don’ts.
It is crucial to prioritize before starting the cleaning process. Among the first steps you should take include:
i. Inspecting cabinets and ceilings which may be ready to fall over.
ii. Removing debris.
iii. Flushing your toilet.
iv. Checking for clogs from debris or mud-they may lead to water stagnation in your toilets, bathrooms, and drainage systems.
v. Removing trapped water.
vi. Opening all the windows and doors to improve ventilation.
vii. Checking on the status of drinking and cleaning water.
viii. Using fans, wet vac, shop vac, desiccants, and dehumidifiers (moisture absorbing materials) to dry out your property.
Upon doing all these things, make sure that you do not:
i. Let garbage pile up. Piled garbage exacerbates contamination and at the same time, it attracts insects and rodents which might be the last thing you need during flooding.
ii. Do electrical or structural work yourself. Instead, seek the assistance of experts or experienced professionals.
iii. Use household vacuums to remove mud and water.
iv. Leave pools of stagnant water because they are potential mosquito breeding grounds.
v. Use grills, generators, charcoal or camp stoves in your homes or other closed areas.
vi. Connect generators to your homes’ power systems, instead, plug-in appliances such as fans directly.
vii. Drain flooded basements too quickly. Rapid pressure changes can result in the collapsing of your foundation.
Getting things back together.
Once you have taken care of all the major issues, you can commence on the flood restoration and water damage cleanup process. The following are some of the things that you do:
i. Remove wall coverings and dispose them because they may harbor molds.
ii. Regularly wash your hands with water and soap.
iii. Wear protective boots, clothing, and rubber gloves.
iv. Throw out soft plastics.
v. Disinfect household items such as dishes with hot water and soap.
vi. Dispose of porous materials like foam rubber and padded furniture.
vii. Use detergents or soap and hot water to clean hard surfaces.
viii. Preserve photographs, documents, and books in re-sealable bags. Freeze them for later cleaning.
ix. Place wood blocks and aluminum foil between immovable furniture’s legs and wet floors.
x. Keep pieces of wall coverings and damaged floors to act as proof to your insurance assessor.
xi. Wipe and take out wooden items so that they can dry.
xii. If your damage is expensive, consult with your mortgage holder before cashing insurance checks.
Important Post Flood Damage Tips.
The damage caused by floods can be overwhelming. Most times, a lot of homeowners never know where to start in the cleanup process. The following tips will help you take the right steps in the aftermath of floods to protect your property and to keep your health and that of your loved ones safe.
1. If necessary, get a tetanus shot: Flood water can contain harmful microorganisms and sewage which can be a cause of diseases and infections. If you or your family member get exposed to flood water, the prudent thing to do would be to get a tetanus shot. In case of large-scale floods within your home area, health officials may be dispatched to offer free shots.
2. Keep children away from water: Talk to your kids about the dangers of coming in contact with flood water. In as much as it may seem adventurous or exiting, educate them about the dangers of swimming in floodwater.
3. Document flood damage: Before restoring your home or property, document the damage by taking photos or videos. Digital documents are the best because they can easily be stored and copied. Making repairs or removing water before collecting digital evidence can decrease your coverage cost.
4. Find out if you live in a disaster area: Once the government authorities declare your region a ‘disaster area,’ you may have access to resources like public services that remediate and protect the area. You may also qualify for financial assistance.
5. Mitigate mold damage: Molds develop a day or two after the occurrence of a flood. Remove all wet contents including beddings and carpeting as soon as you can. Items that have been wet for less than two days may be salvageable. You might, however, need to dispose them if they do not hold sentimental or monetary value. You may also control mold growth on surfaces by using non-ammonia detergents to clean. Pile oil cleaners and cleansing solutions with 10% bleach solutions also do the trick when it comes to disinfection. (Note: never mix bleach products with ammonia, it can result in highly toxic fumes) To avoid fading or staining, ensure that you always test the solution on small areas of items to be cleaned.
6. Secure your property: It’s the responsibility of all homeowners to secure their properties to avoid incurring the cost of additional damage. If your roof has been damaged, secure a tap for protection. Put boards beside and over broken windows. You should also take photos to prove to your insurance company that you did all you could to deter further damage.
7. Invest in water leak alarms and sensors: Water leak alarms and sensors alert you of possible leaks in your business premises and homes. Sophisticated models turn off water coming to your home upon detection.
8. Never pour oils, grease, and fats down your drains: Pouring oils grease and fats may result in the solidification and clogging of your pipes. Solidification and clogging of grease and fats may be a major cause of distress in times of storms.
Home Insurance: Does Weather affect it?
In most cases, weather affects home insurance rates. To many homeowners, rates of insuring against floods might have risen of late. That is the reason why we believe that you should get what you pay for. If you have experienced or know of people who have experienced floods in their homes, advise them to seek professional service-public adjuster’s services. Public adjusters are experienced professionals with years of experience in negotiating with insurance companies to ensure that you get rightful compensation after flooding in your homes.