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How to Handle & Recover From a Flooded Home

One of the most damaging and distressing things a homeowner or renter may experience is flooding. Whether the cause is the weather, burst pipes, or sewer backup, you should know what to do if your home floods. If you take care of the problems early on, it will reduce the amount of damage and make cleaning up and repairs easier for everyone involved. 

For more tips on what to do if your home floods, keep reading!

First Steps

A flooded home can be from external events or internal issues, but no matter the source, the initial steps you take are essential to protecting yourself, your family, and your home from potential harm and extensive damage. The following tips are the first steps to take in case of a flood.

Monitor Flood Forecasts

If bad weather conditions are looming, keep an eye on the local news, weather forecasts, and water levels near you. This is especially crucial if you live in a low-lying land area that is likely to flood. The more prepared you are for a flood, the better!

Complete Initial Preparations

Now is the time to put any flood protection products in place—such as airbrick covers, temporary toilet seals, sandbags, flood-proof skirting, and weights for sink and bath plugs. Move valuables to an upper level, prepare to move your vehicle, and begin following emergency protocols that your family has in place.

Turn It All Off

Turn off all gas, electricity, and water in your home at the primary source, even if there is a power outage along with flooding. This will help prevent contamination, fire, and toxic leaks. Unplug all electrical items and store them upstairs or at a higher level. In your fuse box, switch off each fuse as well as the main breaker. You will need an electrician to inspect, clean, and dry out the box in a serious flooding situation before turning the power back on again.

Evacuate

If you are advised to leave your house by authorities, make sure to follow any instructions given and leave your home and property as secure as possible. Additionally, do not walk through moving flood water—even just 6 inches of moving water can make walking dangerous and conceal tripping or falling hazards below the surface. Finally, do not return to your home until it is entirely safe to do so. 

Returning Home

It may feel overwhelming when you can finally return home, especially not knowing what you will be coming back to. But keep these tips in mind for a safe and easier homecoming for you and your family! 

Take a Breath

A flooding situation is daunting and stressful for everyone involved, so make sure to take a moment to breathe and not panic. The entire mess, cleanup, loss of personal items, damage to property, and possible mold complications all take a toll on you, so looking after your mental and emotional wellbeing is essential to moving forward with the restoration process.

Dress for Success

It’s important to dress in the correct protective gear when returning to a flooded property. Ensure you have rubber boots and gloves to shield against whatever the floodwater contains, such as chemicals, sewage, garbage, or debris. In addition, wear waterproof clothing and a face mask for further protection.

Don’t Touch

Do not touch your mouth, nose, ears, or eyes with anything that has come into contact with the water, including your gloves or hands. Floodwater is often polluted with bacteria, mold, and chemicals that will be harmful to your health and skin.

Stop the Source

If a natural disaster or storm has caused the flooding, you won’t have much control over it. But if a burst pipe or broken appliance is the culprit, stop more water from coming in as soon as possible by turning off the supply. Thankfully, many appliances are equipped with automatic shutoff valves to prevent leaking.

Check the Structure

In severe flooding situations, ensure the house is safe before you enter it. First, check the property to see if it is structurally sound—lookout for buckled walls or floors as indicators of major structural damage. Warped or cracked foundations are another sign of structural compromise and pose a risk of collapsing. You should also contact your utility providers if you think any damage has occurred to gas, electric, water, or sewer lines.

Check the Gas and Electricity

Contact your gas and electric companies to have your supplies checked before turning them back on. Make sure you don’t touch any electrical sources while there is flood water present in the home.

Call the Insurance Company

Notifying the insurance company as soon as possible is important after a flood to speed up the entire restoration process and get your home back to normal. Adjusters can determine your coverage for damage and losses, and your insurance company can advise on the cleanup and repair process. Clear communication with your insurance provider is essential to cover your losses and move forward with the restoration!

To speak with your Insureberry insurance agent, call (877) 962-4776.

Notify People

Notify your family, close friends, or your employer of the situation. It’s important people know where you are and that you’re safe and will explain any work absences. If you have any vulnerable or elderly neighbors, make sure they are aware of the flooding situation and have adequate preparations.

Repairs and Cleanup

Repair and cleanup are daunting tasks, but restoring your home after flooding is key to getting life back to normal. Starting to organize the process of drying out your home and eventual repairs and replacement is the next step after a flood. Follow these tips for where to start!

  • Get Rid of Floodwater: If flood water remains on your property, the first step is to remove it. Fire services may be able to pump water from your home by using high-volume pumps, but keep in mind that their first priority will be responding to emergencies. You can also hire pumps yourself to clear out the floodwater. To prevent dampness and mold from setting in, you will need fans or dehumidifiers to dry out the home. Carpeting and some types of wall insulation retain water and are too difficult to drain, so you might have to replace these.
  • Make a Record of Damage: Take photos of any damaged goods and property, and make a list of damaged contents of your home. Ensure to include the makes and models of any damaged items and keep receipts for anything you replace or have repairs made on for your records.
  • Secure Your Home: The flooding may have damaged windows, doors, gates, and fences, so make sure that your home is secure for your safety and prevent theft while you repair the property. In addition, ensure all access points to your home are functional and secure, and make replacing damaged portals or locks a priority.
  • Clean Surfaces in the Home: Post-flood cleanup can be done yourself or by a professional cleaning crew. Either way, decontaminate all flooded surfaces to prevent bacteria growth and throw away any non-salvageable items. A garden hose is an excellent tool for washing down house surfaces, but avoid using a pressure washer that may make contaminants airborne.
  • Beware of Contamination Concerns: Floodwater can be contaminated with sewage, waste, chemicals, and toxins, so you will have to disinfect any soiled surfaces and areas. If your water systems have backed up into the home, make sure to drain the systems.
  • Perform External Flood Cleanup: You can use a mild disinfectant for cultivated areas outside to not endanger your plants, but don’t hose the garden down as it will saturate the dirt and prolong the life of the bacteria. Likewise, do not dig or rake the affected areas as it will spread the contamination further. You can clean and disinfect patios, pathways, and driveways, but stay off these surfaces for at least 3 hours after disinfection. When it comes to the garden and yard, it’s best to let nature handle the cleanup—ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is very effective in killing bacteria there.
  • Check for Local Funding: Some municipal and government organizations offer compensation funding for flooding to help mitigate the cost of repairs and restoration. Check with your local government to see if you can benefit from any of this funding.
  • Add Flood Protection: While restoring and cleaning your home, consider adding flood protection to save yourself from future stress. This is essential if your home is in a high-risk flooding area, as you will already have things in place to prevent further damage.
Flood-Proofing Around Your Home

To help reduce the risk of flooding in the future, try implementing these steps around your home and property.

  • Clean gullies on your property, especially when autumn leaves cause temporary blockages.
  • Fit flood-proof skirting boards around your property.
  • Get a waterproof safe for your valuables and important documents.
  • Implement water-resistant doors and window frames and use water-resistant sealant for outside walls and doors.
  • Install one-way valves on toilets and drainage pipes to decrease the risk of sewage backup into the home during a flood.
  • Install water sensors that can detect rising water.
  • Invest in sump pump systems that can drain water from below floor level to prevent the water from rising.
  • Keep a close eye out for leaks and frozen or burst pipes.
  • Keep your gutters clean and free of natural debris.
  • Maintain all drains within and around your property.
  • Make sure that all water equipment, such as rain barrels, sprinkler systems, etc., are maintained and leak-free.
  • Move power outlets higher up on the walls in at-risk rooms to prevent electrocution.
  • Clean gullies on your property, especially when autumn leaves cause temporary blockages.
  • Fit flood-proof skirting boards around your property.
  • Get a waterproof safe for your valuables and important documents.
  • Implement water-resistant doors and window frames and use water-resistant sealant for outside walls and doors.
  • Install one-way valves on toilets and drainage pipes to decrease the risk of sewage backup into the home during a flood.
  • Install water sensors that can detect rising water.
  • Invest in sump pump systems that can drain water from below floor level to prevent the water from rising.
  • Keep a close eye out for leaks and frozen or burst pipes.
  • Keep your gutters clean and free of natural debris.
  • Maintain all drains within and around your property.
  • Make sure that all water equipment, such as rain barrels, sprinkler systems, etc., are maintained and leak-free.
  • Move power outlets higher up on the walls in at-risk rooms to prevent electrocution.
  • Place items that are likely to be damaged higher up in the room or upstairs. You can also stand furniture and appliances on wooden pallets or concrete blocks to keep them off the floor.
  • Replace wooden window frames with UPVC to prevent warping and molding.
  • Sign up for your local weather network’s flood warning services.
  • Stock removable barriers for doors and windows and temporary seals for doors and air bricks.
  • Try not to fit carpeting in lower areas of your home, such as basements. Tile is much less likely to be damaged by flooding or require replacement.
Future Flood Preparations

To help prepare for any future flooding events and reduce the impact on your home and family, follow these tips!

  • Agree upon how you and your family members or roommates will contact each other and where you will meet if you become seperated during a flood situation.
  • Consider where to relocate your vehicle in the event of a flood.
  • Keep a list of contact numbers handy, such as emergency services and your insurance company.
  • Know where the water sources in your house are and how to turn them off.
  • Know how to turn off your electricity and gas sources.
  • Make sure that your insurance provider covers property and home flood damage.
  • Prepare an emergency flood kit, including:
    • A battery-powered or wind-up radio
    • A first aid kit
    • Baby items, if necessary
    • Blankets or space blankets
    • Bottled water
    • Copies of your home insurance documents
    • Essential medicines
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Rubber boots
    • Tinned or dried food
    • Warm and waterproof clothing

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