With spring flooding expected, thousands of local homeowners could suffer flooding in their homes. It is important to remember that a flooded home is not only a devastating mess, but it is also a dangerous situation.
Turn Off The Electricity
Before you tread into any standing water, be sure to turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box. You should do this even if the power is out in your community.
If you cannot safely reach the breaker box from a dry spot, DO NOT stand in water to do this. Instead, call your local fire department and have them come to turn off your power.
Click here for more information on electrical safety during floods from Xcel Energy.
Beware Of Gas Leaks
If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a cell phone or neighbor’s home.
Document The Damage
Take plenty of pictures of the flood-damaged areas and any of your belongings that were damaged by the floodwaters. Do this as soon as possible, to accurately document the situation for insurance claims.
For specific information on how to document your damage for insurance claims and appropriately clean your furniture and home, visit FloodSmart.gov.
Beware Of Food/Water Contamination
Any food that came in contact with flood water should be thrown away. This includes food in cabinets, your refrigerator, and YOUR GARDEN. Floodwaters are often contaminated with sewage and can contaminate food.
Do not drink your tap water until you assess its safety. If your home uses well water, check your well. If the area over your well is under floodwater, it should be purified. Read recommendations on how to purify your water if your community goes on a boiling notice by clicking here.
Pump Water Gradually
The Red Cross advises that you should pump out flooded basements gradually, about one-third of the water per day. This will help you avoid further structural damage. If the water is pumped out too quickly, the pressure from the heavy wet soil outside could cause damage to your basement walls.
Disinfect And Dry Out
After the water is pumped out, it’s on to disinfecting. All floors and walls should be washed with a bleach and water solution. The Department of Public Health recommends two capfuls of household bleach for every gallon of water.
Any of your belongings that came in contact with floodwater should be washed in the same solution. FEMA provides tips for saving water damaged items.
Upholstered furniture and carpeting should either be thrown away or be cleaned by a professional cleaner.
You want to thoroughly dry out the inside of your home. Air conditioners, fans and portable dehumidifiers are all useful, and may be covered by your flood policy.
If your yard flooded with any sewage, it should be disinfected with a liberal application of lime. Keep pets and children away from the affected areas, until the lime is no longer visible.
Beware Carbon Monoxide
Be careful of carbon monoxide. Flood cleanup often uses pumps or pressure washers that are powered by gasoline or diesel. This equipment releases colorless, odorless carbon monoxide. NEVER operate these devices indoors.
If you hire cleanup crews or contractors, be sure they are qualified. Beware of people who solicit this business door-to-door.