Staying Safe Following Water Damage
Water damage creates a hazardous environment for any property, and the more severe the damage, the greater the threat to your physical well being. Before working on any water damage scenario, it is important to take a few minutes and properly prepare for the work ahead. Taking appropriate precautions early on will drastically reduce the chances for any post water damage injuries.
Keep children and pets out of the damaged area, and block off the room or rooms that have been affected in order to keep other folks away.
You want to make sure the area is structurally sound before entering, so examine the ceilings and walls for signs of damage and weakening. Ceilings will be most obvious as they tend to sag under the weight of the water. If this is evident, stay out of that room. The ceiling could give way at any time and a person standing in the wrong place could be seriously hurt. If walls have collapsed, then stay out of the area, since this will have a direct impact on the stability of other areas of the home, particularly if the wall in question is a load bearing wall.
Use protective gear when working in flood conditions. This includes long sleeves and pants, heavy duty gloves, steel toed workboots, and eye protection such as goggles. In some case where toxic fumes are present, breathing gear is required.
Turn off the power supply to the home at the main circuit panel or breaker box. This should be done even if the power is already off in the neighborhood. The reason is simple; the power will eventually come back on, and the last place you want to be when it does is standing in the middle of a flooded room up to your ankles in water. Water and electricity do not mix. If you run generators for electrical power, do not run them in enclosed areas, since they give off carbon emissions that can be hazardous.
You also want to turn off the water and gas supply to the home, again, at the source, and use only water that has been boiled for drinking, cooking, or bathing until the water supply has been deemed safe for general use.
If the water damage to your home was the result of severe weather or flooding, be on the lookout for stray animals, as they may have taken refuge in your home. Contact animal control to deal with any wildlife that you do come across. Do not try to take care of it yourself.
Always wash hands or shower thoroughly after working in or around flood waters.