Floods are scary and disorienting, no matter if it is from weather, structural damage or an internal factor like a broken pipe or over-active sprinkler system.

Here are some guidelines for what to do after a flood occurs in your home or business:

Structural & Electrical Safety

Wood is soft and might absorb the flood water very quickly so be sure to check for structural damage outside before going back inside.

Keep your power off until a certified electrician can check your wiring. And always be alert in remembering that electric shock can be a real threat in any appliance or electronic device that was involved in the flood. This can even be the case long after the water is cleaned up – circuitry could have shorted inside.

Never use a regular vacuum cleaner to vacuum water of any kind. Water will short out regular vacuums and even shop vacs have a much smaller capacity than any significant flood is capable of delivering.

Insurance Issues

Call your insurance agent to file a claim. Be sure to keep any receipts you accumulate as part of the fallout from the flood because that may be taken into account in your settlement.

Take pictures of the inside and outside of your home. If the water is still standing, then photograph the water and high water marks relative to other items like furniture or stairs so it will be easier to communicate how high the water actually rose.

Biohazards

Water supports the growth of microorganisms and also weakens and dissolves a lot of various minerals. Since it flows, water is capable of carrying various kinds of allergens and pathogens that are hazardous to people from places you rarely went in your home, to right into prime living space.

Removing wet contents right away, taking them outside to dry in the sun if possible, will reduce the likelihood of mold. Clean everything with bleach and/or Pine-Sol and thoroughly dried. Watch your items for several days after for mold, odor or fungal growth.

Carpets are very difficult to dry out so be willing to allow the carpet to be pulled up and use a series of fans to dry the padding and substrate. Carpet often needs to be replaced but newer nylon varieties are quite resilient if treated quickly.

The impact a flood can have on your home or business really depends on how long the water is allowed to stay in the structure and how quickly airflow can be restored to the area. The water’s contents also play a big role in how much damage is created: microorganisms that are already in sewage will, for example, immediately start to colonize items it comes into contact with materials like fabric, wood and paper.

Additional Considerations

Do not try to clean up a flood yourself.

Call in a professional cleaning service like ServiceMaster Absolute; we have the equipment and training to clean up a flood in a few hours that might have taken you several days. The faster a professional crew gets started, the less likely there will be significant damage. Homeowners insurance will often cover this service, though the type of flood may be a factor in this benefit.

If you get your water from a well, it may not even be safe to wash clothing or even skin until after you are certain the well has been professionally disinfected. If in doubt about your water supply, follow the health department’s drinking and bathing advisories.

If you are buying a home, it must be disclosed if there was a major flood in the home, so be sure to ask your real estate agent and/or title rep for that documentation.