When disasters strike the home, the easy thing to do is panic and worry about your possessions instead of taking care of your health. This is especially true of water damage as a result of flooding. But being prepared and having an action plan will make the recovery process much simpler. Here is what to do if your home floods, so you can focus on yourself.
Take Proper Safety Measures
In the race to get things back to normal, it can be easy to forget to consider the threats to your health and home from water. Taking a few moments to properly prepare before assessing the damage can preserve your long-term health and prevent unnecessary complications and damages.
When preparing to do your initial assessment, dressing in the appropriate safety gear can help prevent additional threats from the water. This is a necessary step because it is impossible to tell if the water that you will be wading into has been contaminated. Floodwater can contain harmful substances such as fecal matter, chemicals, bacteria, and other waterborne pathogens.
When you do go in to inspect the damage to your home, be sure to use the proper safety equipment. Wearing gloves, a mask, and waterproof boots can help prevent illnesses from the water. You should also use a flashlight due to the risks of leaving the electricity connected in standing water. It is also beneficial to wear goggles to prevent exposing your eyes to dangerous substances in the water.
Assess the Damage
The next thing that you are going to want to do after your house floods is to take a look at the damage. The danger in water damage is often hard to see at first, but there are some clear giveaways that water has impacted the integrity of a structure.
Before even entering the house, you should walk around the exterior to look for cracks in the foundation, damage to siding, and possible damage to the roof, depending upon the depth of the water and how high it rose. Note any water stains on the foundation and siding, as they can be indicative of bigger problems.
When you do enter the home, you should also take the time to look for buckled walls, flooring, and ceilings, as these could all be signs that the house is unsafe. Soft drywall can collapse, taking the entire wall or ceiling with it. If you suspect that there is damage, get out of the house immediately, and contact professional assessors.
Document With Photos
After surveying the damage, the next thing you do is take pictures. Include anything that has been damaged as a result of the flood. This will make the future step of calling your insurance company much easier. It’s important to do this before attempting cleanup or repair, so your insurance agency has a clearer picture of the mayhem.
When documenting the damage, be sure to include damages to the property and your possessions. It can be easy to forget in the stress of the moment that insurance companies can only cover what they can verify has been damaged. Take inventory of any items that you plan to include in your claim to be sure that you do not miss anything that you would like to be covered.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
It is only after a flood that many people find out that their standard homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t cover water damage. For this reason, it is often best to speak to your agent to inquire about adding it to your policy before disaster strikes. If you are sure that your policy covers flooding, your agent should be the first call that you make after conducting an initial survey of the damage.
Filing a claim is often the best way to get your home back to normal as quickly as possible. This is where all the photos you took, along with your list of ruined possessions, can come in handy. You should be sure that you receive all the accommodations and benefits that are due from your insurance provider. Your insurance company should send an adjuster to complete their own assessment of the damage. Be sure to keep copies of all communication between yourself, the adjuster, and your insurance company in the event of future delays on your claim.
Remove the Water
After an adjuster has had the opportunity to examine the damage, you should start working to remove the water from your home. This can often be a difficult task, and being prepared can save time and money when you are starting the recovery process. Here are some tips for safely completing this potentially dangerous job.
Take Your Time
One of the worst things you can do after a flood is to try to remove all of the water right away. It might seem counterintuitive, but try to remove a third of the standing water each day until it is gone. This will help the walls and foundations dry out more evenly, potentially preventing structural damage.
Use the Right Tools
Be sure to use the right tools for water removal. If the standing water is deep enough, you can scoop it and carrying it out with buckets. You should exercise caution when doing this because a gallon of water weighs more than eight pounds. Another water removal option is to use a water pump to drain the water away.
Get Things Dry
After the water is gone, humidity and moisture will remain anywhere touched by the flood. To help mitigate the potential for mold and bacteria, leave windows and doors open and set up fans to help speed the process along.
Long Road To Recovery
After all of the damage has been reviewed and you have removed as much water as possible, the last thing to do if your home floods is to call in a water mitigation company to aid in the cleanup. They can assist with checking for and removing any mold, bacteria, or even animals that may have taken shelter in your home. If you bring a company in before the water removal, they can also provide information about the safety and structural integrity of the home. When their job is finished, you know that it is safe to begin the process of returning to your home.