What to do if your house is underwater
It’s something we all hope never happens to us, a nightmare we all hope never to have to encounter in real life. But, sometimes despite our best efforts, life happens. Even here in Flagstaff, far away from the floods and hurricanes that plague other parts of the country, it is still possible for such a disaster to strike, especially during the monsoon season, which can be unpredictable and quite damaging. But if it does, it’s important to know what to do next. Here are some helpful steps to keep in mind.
- When we think of flooding, we often think of natural disasters. But in some cases, the problem may be coming from, quite literally, inside the house. If this is the case, see if you can turn off the water at the source.
- Turn off the electricity, but only if you can do so without stepping into water. Otherwise, all electrical components are better left alone, as they may only put you and others in further danger. You should also avoid stepping in water if your power lines are down.
- If you haven’t already, evacuate from your home and make your way to a safe, dry spot if at all possible. It should also be noted that you should not return to your home if you spot any structural damage, and should notify the appropriate utility companies if you observe damage to water, gas, electric, and sewer lines.
- After calling 911 for medical assistance, if required, call your landlord, followed by your insurance provider to let them know that your home has suffered water damage.
- For insurance purposes, document everything prior to beginning the cleanup and restoration process.
- The next step, and often the most difficult one, is cleanup and restoration. The water will need to be removed, personal items removed if possible, dried out and disinfected. The Red Cross has a guide available here on how to begin addressing the problem of flooding in your home safely, but in order to make sure the job is done right and avoid future problems of mold and the like (which can be an extremely dangerous health hazard), it may be wise to contact an expert in water damage restoration, remediation, and repair like Mammoth Restoration. Mold can form in as little as 72 hours and only needs 3 components to grow: moisture, a food source (such as drywall, wood or brick), and time. Steps to not only extract the water, but dehumidification, air movement, demolition and disassembly of water-damaged items will all have to be considered and addressed.
My basement has flooded: what do I do?
Although it may seem appealing or logical to see flooding or the general presence of moisture in your basement as a less pressing issue and ignore it for a while, even the slightest bit of excess water present in this part of your home can cause major issues, such as damaging floors and walls, encouraging the growth of mold, and even affecting roofing. Signs of excess moisture in your basement can take the form of efflorescence (a sparkling effect caused by minerals leftover from evaporated water), musty smells, stains, and more obviously, the presence of mold. In the long term, you can take many steps to prevent the flooding of your basement, from simpler tasks such as cleaning out your gutters regularly to re-landscaping the environment around your home. But if flooding is already an issue, you need to take action now before the situation worsens. All of the above recommendations apply, but particularly in the case of flooded basements, contacting your electrician should be one of your first and most important moves. If your circuit breaker is not located in the basement, you may be able to turn it off yourself, and should do so immediately. If not, please wait until a professional arrives to help. If your basement has a floor drain, we suggest you check (if safe and possible) to make sure it’s open and unclogged, as this will help expedite the draining process. It is best to always wear waterproof boots and gloves when coming in contact with water from a flood. Calling a plumber may also be helpful in determining the original cause of the flooding. Surface water, groundwater, storm sewer water, and sanitary sewer water are all probable root problems. As usual, do not use any electrical devices that have come in contact with the water.
My kitchen has flooded: what do I do?
With so many water-using and water-producing pipes, appliances, and other components in your kitchen, it is not at all unlikely or uncommon to experience flooding in this part of your home. Ice-makers, dish-washers, and under-the-sink systems can all be at fault for these issues, not to mention broken pipes, poor drainage, and water heaters. But when you’re already in the middle of such a mess, what do you do? If your kitchen, or other similar eating/cooking quarters have flooded, you should, for the large part, take the same steps as mentioned above in section 1. One thing that is especially important to mention here is that you should, when given the opportunity, throw away any food that may have come in contact with water from the flooding. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also suggests that you boil all drinking water until authorities can tell you for sure that the water is safe for consumption. It may be helpful, if you are able to do so, to open drawers and cabinets so that they may be able to begin to air/dry out. You should also, when possible, clean dinnerware, glassware, flatware, and any other such items thoroughly before using them again. This should almost go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway; if your kitchen has been flooded, you should also refrain from using gas or any electrical appliances for the time being.
My living room has flooded: what do I do?
When we think of flooding occurring in our homes, the living room is probably the last or close to last place we envision this happening. But like any part of your home, flooding is always possible, and unfortunately can happen at any time and when you least expect it, so it’s important to be prepared. Like with any other part of your home, we advise you to follow the safety precautions and most essential steps described in section 1. But, it’s also true, that when living rooms flood, they require some special extra care and attention. Rugs, carpeting, and upholstery will all need to be removed sooner rather than later, in the living room and anywhere else flooding has occurred. These will need to be taken, or even ripped out as soon as you can safely access them, as well as any removable furniture — although it is advised to be extremely cautious when attempting to lift or move furniture that is wet or damp, as it may have become heavier and more cumbersome in the process. Wooden furniture is especially important to remove as it is likely to stain carpeting or other similar surfaces when wet. If it is accessible and safe to do so (but only if it is safe to do so), you may want to consider opening windows, and turning on fans, dehumidifiers (if you have one), as well as air-conditioning/heating units to make the drying out process go faster (this is recommended for all other rooms of the house as well, if it is possible and safe to do so).
Mammoth Restoration is the most trusted name in emergency restoration services celebrating 15 successful years of business in northern Arizona. Whether you are in need of water damage restoration, pack out services, mold remediation services, carpet cleaning, biohazard cleanup, fire damage restoration, restoration and reconstruction, or trauma cleanup, give us a call at (928) 714-0003.