Cleaning Up a Flood: 4 Simple Steps to Cleaning Up a Flood in a Home or Business
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Although most common in spring and fall, flooding can occur in any state any time throughout the year and for any number of reasons. While you probably think of groundwater flooding when you think of a flood, plumbing fixtures can also cause a flood. If the flood was caused by groundwater, the water is likely to contain bacteria and parasites that pose a health risk. Regardless of the source of the water, mold is a possibility if the water sits for a period of time. For these reasons, it’s important that you begin cleaning up a flood as soon as possible.
Protect Yourself When Cleaning Up a Flood
Since floodwaters may contain mold, parasites, and bacteria, you need to take precautions when cleaning up a flood. Always wear pants, long sleeves, gloves, and protective eyewear. If the flood contains sewage or there is a sewage backup, wear rubber boots or waders while cleaning floodwaters. Use waterproof bandage all open wounds to prevent infections before cleaning up a flood. You should also shower immediately after performing any work in flood waters.
4 Simple Steps to Cleaning Up a Flood
1. Check the Electricity
Water and electricity are a very dangerous mix. Before you begin cleaning up a flood, check that the area is safe. If the water is still rising or within 6 inches of outlets or other electrical items, you should shut off the power in the area. If the water is within 2 inches of outlets or already over them, do not enter the water and call the utility company to have your electricity shut off at the street.
2. Remove the Flood Water
Begin removing the flood waters as soon as possible, even if water is still entering your property. If the water is less then a few inches, soak up the water with towels or a mob. Avoid wringing out saturated items out in the sink, as they may cause further water damage. Instead, wring them out in buckets or containers and dump the water outside and away from your property. If there are more than a few inches of floodwater, use a pump or bucket to bail water out. You can rent a pump from a local equipment rental company. Once you’ve removed most of the water, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up the remaining water.
3. Dry Out the Area
After the water has been drained, you’ll notice that there are still damp spots. This is when ventilation and air circulation come in handy. First, remove all damaged materials from the area. They’ve already been exposed to the water, leaving them in the basement is only encouraging mold growth. Loose items such as furniture, appliances, and other valuables should be removed elsewhere to be dried, cleaned, and repaired. In many cases, they may have to be discarded. Dehumidifiers and fans will be extremely helpful during this process. Leave them on until the area is completely dry. Make sure to leave doors, windows, cupboards, and closets open, too, to encourage air circulation. Believe it or not, this speeds up the process of drying out your home.
4. Disinfect Everything After a Flood
Surfaces can be cleaned using a bleach solution to disinfect. Allow the area to remain saturated by the solution for 3-4 minutes before rinsing and drying. When cleaning contaminated surfaces, look for walls, countertops, and doors, as well as outdoor furniture, patios, decks, and children’s playground equipment. Kitchen items such as glassware and utensils should be disinfected, while wooden or porous items such as chopping blocks or rolling pins should be thrown out. Avoid using scented or color safe bleach.
Flood Damage Is Not Covered By Standard Insurance Policies
Unfortunately, many homeowners mistakenly assume flood damage is covered under their homeowners’ insurance policy. Separate flood insurance coverage is available in many communities through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that provides coverage to homeowners, renters, and businesses.
Floodsmart.gov allows users to determine their flood risk and see if their community participates in the program, as well as providing contact information for insurance agents that can answer any and all questions regarding flood damage and coverage.
Most flood damage policies are around $700 annually, which is well worth it when you stop to consider the enormous potential loss to your property and possessions as the result of flooding. NFIP flood insurance can cover your home for up to $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the contents.
Why Use a Water Damage Restoration Company
Professional restoration companies have the equipment and procedures in place to take care of even the largest water damage scenarios. They can take the appropriate steps, in the right order, designed to remove the excess water from your home, dry everything out, and remove the water damage threat.
Even more important, they know where to look for water damage problems in areas that most of us would never think to look. The unseen and hidden water damage is the greatest threat to any structure because once it gets bad enough to be stumbled upon by the average homeowner, the level of damage inflicted is already considerable.
Look for the IICRC or RIA seal of approval before signing any contracts or authorizing any work, and ask about their comprehensive industry standard guarantee on all work performed. If you do choose to hire a cleaning and restoration company please keep in mind the following:
- The restoration contract should include an estimate and description of work to be performed
- Never choose a water damage contractor if you feel pressured or forced into signing a contract
- Save all receipts for your insurance provider
- Ask for references if you have any doubts
- Do not sign a completion form until you are totally satisfied
Find a flood damage restoration company near you now or call 1-888-443-3110 to talk with the on-call contractor in your neighborhood. Our on-call water damage and flood restoration companies offer a free estimate and 24-hour emergency services.