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What To Keep Or Throw Out Following Flood Damage

Water damage in your home or business can cause tremendous damage, not just to the structure but also the various individual items within. Some of these items may be successfully salvaged, while others may have to be discarded and replaced. The question is, which is which? You certainly don’t want to throw out something valuable only to discover later that it may have been saved. Here are a few pointers on what may or may not be able to withstand water and flood damage. Keep in mind that this applies only to clean water situations; anything contaminated by sewage or chemicals should be thrown out.

Upholstered Furniture – if this has been severely soaked or submerged in water for more than 48 hours, then it is probably unsalvageable. If there are signs of mold then the piece should be thrown out.

Hardwood Furniture – This may be salvaged if it is dried out thoroughly and if there are no traces of mold discovered.

Laminate Furniture – if this type of furniture has become delaminated, then it should be thrown out, because the pressed wood within the laminate absorbs water and can be almost impossible to dry.  The same goes for furniture made from particle board or pressed wafer board. The only exception being if the dampness was due to a steam leak.

Appliances and Electrical Devices – these may or may not be salvaged, but this determination should be made by a qualified electrician. Under no circumstances should the devices be used following exposure to water until this inspection is made. There may be a high risk of electrical shock.

Books, Documents, and Photos – these actually may be saved if properly treated. Do not make any attempt to open or close books or folded documents. Artwork and photos may be placed in your freezer to be professionally treated later on.

Drapes and Curtains – these items may be dried out and restored. The type of treatment used depends on the type of fabric.

Toys – Stuffed toys should be thrown out. Other toys may be kept only if it is possible to completely clean and disinfect them. This is especially true for any item that a toddler may place in their mouth.

Fabrics and Clothes – these may be washed, several times over, however should be discarded if they have been heavily contaminated.

Foods & Medicine – all should be discarded, since it is virtually impossible to decontaminate food.  The one exception is food that has been sealed in airtight metal cans that are not showing signs of bulging. If power has been lost for more than two hours, discard perishable foods such as meat, poultry, and eggs.


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