Flood damages wreck thousands of homes every year. People all over the world lose valuable property to floods caused by torrential rains and melting snow. Moreover, as standing water is a breeding ground for myriads of microbes and virulent microorganisms, floods are potential sources of serious, even life-endangering illnesses. Therefore, a careful and thorough cleaning-up after a flood is of paramount importance both for our property and personal health.
If you have had the misfortune to be the victim of a recent flood, you can take the following measures to lessen the extent of the damages caused.
Step 1 - Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company
Report the flood to your insurance company. Before and during the cleaning activities, take photos of the flood damages. This will help you substantiate your insurance claims.
Step 2 - Dry up Water
Bail out the standing water with a pump (if the water level is beyond your physical capacity, call your local emergency services for help). You can also turn on the heating system, if it is operating, to dry up some of the water.
Step 3 - Remove Residual Mud
Once the water in your home has been dipped out, put on rubber gloves and boots, take a shovel and throw out as much residual mud as possible. Clean any remaining mud with a hose.
Step 4 - Take Furniture Out
Take out all furniture, rugs, etc. and let them air outside. Dispose of any article that is beyond repair, cleaning, or disinfection.
Step 5 - Clean and Disinfect Premises
Fill a huge container with warm water and pour into it two tablespoons of chlorinated bleach per gallon. Scrub with this mixture all walls, floors, shelves, etc. that came into contact with the flood water. This will help disinfect your premises. You have to also tear off and replace any wallboard or paneling that came into contact with the flood.
Step 6 - Reduce the Moisture Level
To remove the moisture from your house, turn on the fans or air-conditioning system if they run properly. Open the windows to allow fresh air to come in. Then remove the mold and mildew with a vacuum cleaner. Check the insulation: if it has been dampened, remove and replace it. If you have had your floor covered with linoleum or other similar material, remove it and allow the subflooring to dry.
Step 7 - Clean Photos and Books
Carefully clean with a wet cloth any mud from your photos or books. Let them dry in a well-ventilated place.
Step 8 - Things to Throw away
Among the goods you must throw away are mattresses, clothes, and cloth toys which have come in touch with flood water. They may have become now sources of infection. Flood-affected food should not be eaten under any circumstance.
Step 9 - Wash Your Clothes
When you are finished with the cleaning, take off your clothes and wash them in warm water with detergent separate from any other items.
Step 10 - Call and Electrician
After the flood, your wiring system may be damaged. Call an electrician to check it. Do not attempt to repair the cables yourself as it is a life-threatening operation.
Do not drink tap water immediately after the flooding since it may be contaminated. During the cleaning-up, drink only bottled water. Call your local Health Department to inquire when you can safely resume drinking tap water.