What to do in the first 24 hours
A flooded home can be devastating and the cause can be a long list of possibilities. Whether internal or external causes, a flood must be handled with a swift and precise course of action, in order to mitigate the scope of damage and health dangers for you and your family.
A home flood may be caused by external weather or internal system malfunction like a water heater or plumbing. Regardless of the cause, the result can be disastrous and feel insurmountable to a homeowner. The dangers however do not allow time to process decision making skills. Within the first 24 hours a crucial list of actions are required in order to safely and effectively restore your home to its pre-flood condition.
- Contact your insurance agent. A reliable resource to partner with is a vital component and one that will be woven throughout this list. Your insurance agent will be an integral and necessary ally in the cleanup and recovery process. An insurance agent will jump start the restoration process, filing the claims and establishing the starting point of the scope of work. You will need to advise your insurance agent of the current state of your home as this will determine many of the first steps in the cleanup process.
- Take pictures and document the range of damage to your home and your belongings. This will be a useful piece of information in the insurance and recovery process. Detailed and meticulous documentation will only serve to your benefit.
- Protect your health. Regardless of the source of the flood in your home, even if the water appears to be clean and uncontaminated does not mean it is so. If the leak source is in your kitchen or bathroom, it is likely that the flooding water passed in, around or through various household chemicals which can lead to serious problems if you come into contact with it and your bare skin. Always wear protective gear such as thick elbow length gloves, mid-level boots such as rain boots and always use a protective mask and eyewear for safety precautions when handling flood waters.
- Avoid additional risks when returning to your home either permanently or temporarily. If the flood left substantial damage to your home, it is likely that you will need to vacate for a specific period of time. This will be dependent on the scope of repair and restoration work that is required. But even if you are returning without major visible damage or even just to retrieve some of your possessions, it is imperative that you are aware of your surroundings in the home. Take a cautious look around for any apparent structural damage, large holes especially in the flooring, loose or exposed wires – especially near any standing water. Additionally, you must be aware if any utilities remain in working order within the home. Damage to water, sewer, electrical and gas lines can be detected but only if you are aware and diligent in inspecting possible immediate dangers in the home.
In the aftermath of a flood, large or small the stress and emotional fallout can feel overwhelming at best. This is an experience that most people, while moderately prepared, are not fully prepared to handle. The blanket of preparation begins with all of the right support systems in place. The right insurance, the right “in case of emergency” resources and ultimately the right clean up and restoration partners. The tools to mitigate stress will be a homeowners greatest resource of all and while full preparation may not be flawless, the foundation can certainly be planned.