30 May Can I Enter The House Before Flood Damage Clean Up Begins?
That’s a tough call to make as there are a number of factors that can play a role in the answer. Things to consider include:
- The extent or level of flooding
- Possible structural damage
- The presence of contaminants or harmful bacteria
- Active utilities such as electricity
We recommend that you let us either talk to you over the phone or physically evaluate the location before attempting to go back into the residence or business. Many people make the mistake of blindly trying to reenter the area in an effort to save artifacts or personal property, but the potential risk isn’t worth it.
However, if you absolutely feel that you have to enter, here are some general guidelines:
Determine Structural Stability
Determine whether your property is structurally safe to enter. Before entering your home or business, take a look at the ceiling and supporting walls. Do not enter if the ceiling is sagging due to water buildup or if walls have collapsed.
If you are not certain the building is safe or if you have any question regarding personal safety, stay out and have a professional make an assessment.
If the building is determined safe, walk in carefully and inspect indoor stability. Do not enter any deep standing water.
If your property is determined unsafe or you cannot live in your home while repairs are being made, make arrangements for temporary alternate lodging. Keep records of all additional expenses incurred as a result. Most insurance policies will cover additional living expenses.
Cut off power supply
Assume all power lines are active and functioning. Turn off the power to your unit by disabling the main circuit breaker panel even if the neighborhood power grid is down. The panel is usually installed in the garage, utility room, basement, or outdoors on the side of the home.
Do not remove excess water using regular household vacuums. Avoid using any electrical appliances especially while standing on wet carpets or floors.
If you choose to use a generator for temporary electricity supply, do not run it in an enclosed area. The generator’s engine releases carbon monoxide that is extremely hazardous to health. Be sure to let the engine cool off before refueling and avoid using extension cords.
Turn off water supply
Turn off the main water supply. Locate the main valve and turn it clockwise to turn it off. You may need to use pliers or an adjustable wrench. The main water valve is usually located in the basement, near the water meter, or outside the building. If you can not complete this task yourself, contact a plumber immediately.
Do not use piped water until you are sure it is safe. Use bottled water or boiled water for washing, drinking, and cooking.
Turn off gas supply
Check for the odor of natural gas and shut off the gas supply lines. The main gas valve is usually located on the gas supply pipe, near the meter.
Beware of animals
Watch out for stray pets, reptiles, and rodents that might have taken shelter in your property after being disturbed by the water. Be cautious of approaching any animal.
Use a stick to poke through debris before removing it. Contact your local animal control officer for assistance.
Use protective gear
In many cases of water damage events, water is contaminated with sewage, mud, and other debris, presenting health hazards. Protect yourself during clean up using protective gear such as:
- Disposable plastic gloves
- Respirator with a particulate filter, N-95 respirator, or half-face respirator with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter
- Goggles or protective eyewear
- Disposable full body clothing, coveralls, or a lab coat
- Head gear
- Rubber boots or foot coverings
Again, our suggestion is to avoid entering the structure yourself and allow a trained professional with the appropriate gear assess the situation.