How to Handle Flood Emergencies
Flood emergencies can happen in and around the home at anytime and anywhere, be it from flash flooding or drainage failure. It’s important to know how to handle these situations so that you can be prepared to minimise or prevent damage, and protect your property and belongings. There are many things you can do to prepare your property in anticipation of a possible disaster; however, this article will deal with what you can do to restore your property after flooding has occurred. Here are some strategies and tips on how to handle flood emergencies:
Safety comes first – before returning to your property after a flood to inspect the damage, make sure it is safe to do so. Enter with caution and look for hazards such as foundation cracks, leaking chemicals, and gas leaks or exposed electrical wiring. Wear protective gear when removing water from your house, as this will prevent exposure to harmful bacteria. Don’t drink or cook with tap water unless you know it is safe to do so.
Turn off gas and electricity – make sure your home power and gas supplies are disconnected while you are working in flooded areas. When it is time for these to be turned back on, seek professional help. They can relight pilot lights, check wiring, and do a final check of the systems. Even if you have turned off your electricity, be careful of appliances which may still store electricity even when turned off – read the warning labels.
Contact your Insurance Company – and let them guide you through the process of filing a claim.
Start listing damage – take photos, video or write down the damage caused to your property for insurance purposes.
Remove wet contents – immediately. Mould will begin to grow on wet carpets or furniture and other moisture-retaining items within 24-48 hours. Remove these items from the property and clean them thoroughly. Make sure they are completely dry and free of fungus before taking them inside. Also, rescue your most valuable items first (for example, passports, insurance papers, etc).
Remove debris – clear out trash or outside matter that has come into your property during flooding. Throw out any food that has come in contact with flood waters, even canned food. As you clean, do not just leave this stuff out the front of your property, as it will attract mosquitoes etc. Have it removed as soon as possible.
Make repairs – patch up holes in roof, walls or windows with plastic sheeting or boards. This prevents further rain causing more water damage.
Ventilate the area – during dry weather, open the windows and doors to ventilate and help dry out the inside of your home. There is some heavy-duty equipment, like dryers and air movers or water pumps, which can assist this process. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. This will help speed up the drying process and eliminate odours. Air purifiers can filter the air of allergens, mould particles and odours.
Clean and disinfect – all surfaces and areas touched by floodwater. This prevents the spread of bacteria and disease. Steam cleaning can disinfect and sanitise areas without the use of chemicals, if you are sensitive to these. Get rid of anything that cannot be disinfected.
Drain underground areas carefully – if you have a cellar, be careful about how you remove the water. The force of the water soaked ground outside this area could be enough to make the walls buckle or cave in.
Devise a flood response plan – to handle flood emergencies in case it occurs again. Consider flood proofing your house through elevating or reinforcing the property.
Seek professional help – to drain water from your ceilings and walls, or for any general restoration assistance.