Water is the essence of life; we couldn’t survive without it. It’s crucial to keeping the body running well, and we depend on it for all kinds of other reasons: staying clean and preventing the spread of germs; and our homes and our food, to name just a few. Yet, water isn’t always welcome, especially when it comes unbidden in great quantities and floods our property.
If your home is flooded, it will take time, effort and money to set everything to rights. Be patient, because even though governments may be accustomed to dealing with disasters, the wheels of bureaucracies can move more slowly than you’d like.
You’ll need to look after a number of tasks, including removing the water, salvaging items and cleaning, so be prepared to dig in for the long haul. The following suggestions should help you to understand what’s involved and how to approach a seemingly impossible job.
What To Do After Flood Damage
Your first task should be to contact your insurance agent. Most agencies have a 24-hour hotline. Ensure that they know what is happening. They will be able to advise you about coverage for temporary lodgings or specific procedures that must be followed for reimbursement.
- Don’t fret about your insurance documents. Your agent will have your policy available.
- Don’t undertake repairs before determining whether an adjuster needs to inspect the damage.
- Record the damage with photos as the recovery process unfolds and document all conversations with insurance agents.
- Also, register damage with your local municipality.
Evacuated After Flooding
If you have been evacuated:
- Stay away. Don’t return home until officials say it is safe, no matter how much you miss your house and your routines. Keep tuned to the radio or television or follow the official posts on social media.
- Check costs. Your insurance will potentially pay for a percentage of your stay elsewhere. Determine their limits and choose temporary lodgings accordingly.
- Travel safely. Avoid washed out bridges and flooded roads. Again, be aware of them by staying on top of news reports.
- Don’t be shocked. Stay away from sagging or downed power lines.
After a Flood – The First Steps
If your home was flooded:
- Safety first. Check for structural damage before entering your home. You don’t want to risk it collapsing around you.
- Power down. Turn off the power in your home until an electrician says it’s safe to flip the switch.
- Enter carefully. Beware of the presence of snakes or animals that have sought higher ground to avoid the water.
- Utility check. Inspect your utilities.
– If you hear a hissing noise or smell gas, open and window and leave immediately. There is danger of an explosion when gas is confined. Try to turn off the main gas line outdoors and call your gas company. They must turn the gas back on to ensure that it is done safely.
– Turn off electricity at the fuse box or main circuit breaker, especially if you see frayed wires or sparks. Don’t wade through water to do so; call an electrician. Get the “all clear” from the electrician before using appliances, heating or cooling systems again.
– Check for damage to sewer and water lines. Avoid using the toilets if there appears to be sewer damage; if water lines are harmed, boil water or drink from melted ice cubes. Call a plumber for assistance.
- Let the waters recede. Remove the water from your home, draining it in stages. Remove no more than one third of the water out daily, because if the ground is still saturated, removing water too quickly could cause the walls to buckle. Bail out the standing water using buckets; finish up with a wet/dry shop vacuum.
- Protect yourself. Wear hip boots and gloves as you remove items and clean the premises to avoid bacteria and contaminants.
- Rescue documents. If you have important documents that you’ll need as the process unfolds, store them in the freezer to dry them out without damaging them further.
- Structural integrity. Ventilate and humidify the house until it is completely dry. Remove drywall, paneling and insulation at least 50 centimetres (20 inches) above the water line.
- Clear the decks. Remove any debris, as well as items that are soaked and dirty.
- Swab the decks. Wash all surfaces with water and unscented detergent to clean and sanitize.
- Check for mould. Mould can cause serious health problems. You may need to have your home professionally cleaned, but check with your insurance company regarding coverage.
When Can I Return After Flood Damage
The Canadian government suggests that you don’t plan to move back into your home until:
- The water has receded and the water supply has been inspected and given clearance for use.
- All rooms contaminated by flood waters have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- There are adequate toilet facilities available as affirmed by the health department.
- Contaminated dishes and utensils have been washed and disinfected.