As owners enter their homes after a flood, safety is of the utmost importance. Avoid entering a house until local officials have declared it safe. Be cautious when entering, and don't go in if water remains around the building. |
Don't be in a massive rush to rip into the clean up. I've always found when dealing with floods – whether it's one house or 1000 – you'll be more productive if you stop, sit down with the team helping you and discuss the plan and objectives.
The key in these situations is to get the place clean and habitable as soon as possible – it's always the best outcome. Before the clean up can take place, there are safety and investment areas which need to be addressed.
In an area of the home which has electrical power, ensure that all the power is turned off. The second consideration is to telephone the insurance company and ask them how you should deal with the clean up and whether they wish for assessors to come and look at the damage. Retrospectively, you may stand to lose more if you do the clean up and then tell the insurance company, especially if your flood is an isolated one. In the case of huge floods where too much demand is made of assessors, they may be happy with photographs of the damage, though this is vital to establish before anything else can be done.
Isolate power to the house if you can, the easiest way is to trip the main circuit-breaker. Use battery-powered tools where possible, instead of 240v tools, until you have the place cleaned up. If you use power tools, use a generator/genset, not mains power – leave the house isolated.
Have an electrician come through and give your lights and power the OK. The electrician will probably put a single 10a GPO in and give you one circuit to live on, because the rest are basically exposed and will remain exposed until plasterers put up new Gyprock.
Home owners should clean and disinfect every surface in their home, including walls and hard-surfaced floors, with either a store-bought product or a homemade solution. A disinfectant solution can be made with 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach and a gallon of water. Open windows in the house for ventilation as you clean.
You are dealing with Category 3 water loss – this is the same category as raw sewage. You don't know what is in the water, so you must treat it as contaminated and use some common sense.
Use a paper face mask simply to prevent water from splashing in your mouth. When working in affected areas, wear gloves, and have wash water and soap on hand, taking regular breaks to wash your hands and face. I'd also replace the mask if it gets splashed. Wear safety glasses to minimise splashing in your face and, hey, you'll probably be working with power tools – it is common sense. This is the minimum protection I would suggest and is what I would do. If you have access to better protection, use it.
Getting things dry
Anything which is fabric based will need washing. The flood waters will make the items smell. Gather up all items to be washed, and once the washing machine is in
Dry It Out. To avoid damage to the foundation, gradually pump water from flooded basements (2-3 feet per day). For items that cannot be washed, such as mattresses and furniture, if they are salvageable air dry them outside and then spray them with a disinfectant. Otherwise, throw them out.
For more helpful tips on proper things to do, check out the main page here:
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