A flood is a horrible and stressful thing to go through, yes. But it is often nowhere near as stressful as trying to get your life back together afterward. And in such efforts, the first day after the flood is often crucial to how much your efforts will pay off. Therefore, we have put together a guide on what to do in the first 24 hours after a flood.
Do nothing until it is safe
The very first step, before we even begin to cover what to do in the first 24 hours after a flood, is to make sure that you can safely return to your home. Has the flooding ended? Have the authorities proclaimed that you can return to your home? If not, you are putting yourself at serious risk if you insist on doing so anyway. Of course, if the flooding was never bad enough to necessitate evacuation, things are different. But you still do not want to kick off your action until you know there will be no additional flooding damage.
Collect the necessary evidence for insurance
Once you know you can start your recovery efforts, you must first collect evidence of the damage. You can begin while the flooding is active if you are still at home and it is not life-threatening. But you cannot start trying to fix things until you can provide sufficient proof to your insurance company. You will have a lot of expenses. Replacing furniture. Fixing water damage. There are even reasons to hire professional plumbers after a flood. Not to mention a good electrician to check everything over. So, do not forget to do a thorough job of documenting damage, or you might miss out on the funds you need to pay for all of this. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should likely call your insurance provider and ask if it’s okay to clean. Some insist on their own inspection.
Try to salvage items
You want to get all the items you know you absolutely want to keep out of the water and to safety quickly. It is possible to find cheap plastic bins for moving, and you can use these affordable and water-proof bins to store things in the dry areas of the house. Just remember to give them at least a cursory drying, or you risk mold spreading through your important items and memorabilia. Unfortunately, unless the items are made out of plastic or similar materials impervious to water, there is not much point in trying to salvage them after the first twenty-four or, maybe, forty-eight hours. In most cases, that is when the item becomes almost entirely ruined beyond the point of recovery.
Get rid of the water
Of course, once you have snatched up important items, the next thing to do in the first 24 hours after a flood is to try to remove water from your home. If you own a pump already, this task will be a lot easier. You might want to invest in one anyway if you have a basement or a similarly tricky space to clean up. Otherwise, you face the prospect of doing everything by hand using buckets and mops. That takes longer and is typically a somewhat hazardous task as you trudge up and down wet stairs likely still littered by debris. Our previous remark concerning insurance still stands. If your insurance provider insists on doing an inspection themselves, water will linger and cause more damage. So, you might, in the end, be forced to choose between waiting and acting if they take too long.
Dry out everything you can
Once the water is gone, you want to get your home as dry as possible. Open all the windows. Remove all furniture and items that can be brought out. Use heaters or blow-dryers in riskier areas, such as wallboards, baseboards, drywall, or wooden flooring. You may even have to create a hole in the drywall so that water can leak out, depending on the severity of the water damage. Of course, you can also opt to have these removed and replaced later. But that is the more expensive and troublesome option, and it is possible to save them if you act quickly. Be aware, however, that mold can form within forty-eight hours. And if it does, it might be better to give up on the items it has developed on. Keeping mold out of your home is your top priority at such a time.
Contact professional cleaners
Even if you have followed everything you need to do in the first 24 hours after a flood, it is still wise to contact professionals. You do not need to have them arrive right away. But you want to book their services within that first day. Chances are, other people will be looking for local cleaners too. And the prices might skyrocket in the area if you are not careful to make a reservation quickly. Some cleaning methods can prevent mold or similar water damage problems, which you might not have access to. They require special cleaning equipment or specific chemicals, which are dangerous when handled by non-professionals. Similarly, there are reasons to have your drains cleaned by professionals, especially after a flood which may have caused problems.
Contact a house inspector
The sad truth of the fact is, the flood might have done more damage to your home than you think. It is useful to check out a standard home inspection checklist to do some snooping yourself. But it is still best to have a professional take a look, as well. You might miss serious problems that could have developed in your home’s foundation or deep-reaching damage to your home’s walls or electrical network. A home inspector would discover everything that needs to be fixed and inform you quickly.
Now that you know what to do in the first 24 hours after a flood, you are better prepared for such an eventuality. Just remember that, no matter what, the safety of you and your family comes first. You can recover from the financial side of things. But it is much more challenging to recover from health emergencies or emotional trauma.
You need to know what to do in the first 24 hours after a flood to ensure you get through the experience safely and with minimal damage to your home.