If you live in an area prone to heavy storms, you’ve likely experienced water damage somewhere in your home. After the storm subsides, the cleanup efforts begin. But cleaning after a storm isn’t the same as daily cleaning.
Health concerns and hazards require more in-depth cleaning efforts, safety gear, and other protective measures.
Unfortunately, flooding after a storm may have destroyed some items in your home, but others can be restored with some care and professional help. Follow these guidelines when you’re ready to begin restoring your home after water damage from a heavy storm.
Always Proceed with Caution
You and your family’s safety should be the priority after any storm. Before assessing any interior damage, you must know that your house is safe to enter. Keep these tips in mind as you make your way through your home.
- Prevent contact with unseen dangers by avoiding floodwaters
- Avoid power lines
- Don’t use lighters, kerosene, candles, or matches when assessing the damage
- Wash your hands with soap and clean water to prevent conjunctivitis
As you are safely assessing the area, take pictures of any damage you notice. This evidence will be helpful when you file an insurance claim.
Eliminate Standing Water
After you’ve processed the events and assessed the damage, the first task is removing any standing water. You may have to use a shop vac to pump out water to begin drying wet surfaces.
Slowly pump out the water, approximately one-third per day. Pumping at this pace will help prevent any structural damage. If you remove water too quickly, pressure from wet soil on the exterior could cause the basement walls to crumble.
Remove Any Contaminants
Water damage does more than wreak havoc on your home. Dirty water contains bacteria and hazardous waste, such as untreated sewage. It may lead to illnesses, rashes, and infections after contact with your skin.
If your water damage is minor, you may be able to take care of cleaning on your own. Using a sponge and detergent, disinfect affected walls, floors, closets, and shelves. Always wear protective gear to shield yourself against chemicals and contaminants.
Consider the following personal protective equipment when cleaning up after water damage:
- Steel-toed boots
- Hip waders
- Cut-resistant work gloves
- Safety glasses with side shields, or a full face shield
- Hard hat if there is a threat of falling debris
- Pants and long sleeves or coveralls
- N95 mask
If you’re ever unsure whether something is safe, throw it out. It’s better to repurchase something, including an appliance, than to risk an injury or infection.
Taking Care of Mold
Mold is a severe threat after a flood or damaging storm. Water damage creates the perfect moist and humid environment where mold thrives. Spores begin growing within 48 hours after exposure and become a health concern. You may find mold on drywall, carpeting, ceiling tiles, curtains, and other surfaces.
You can prevent mold by removing standing water and drying the area as quickly as possible. Dampness may persist for several days, so open doors and windows to circulate air. Using fans and dehumidifiers may speed up the process.
Be on alert for signs of mold; you can’t always detect it immediately. A musty smell is one sign that mold could be present. If you suspect water damage has caused a mold problem in your home, contact a professional for mold remediation.
Preparing for the Future
If you live in an area susceptible to heavy storms and flooding, it’s wise to plan for future storms. Invest in materials to board up your windows and doors. Placing materials like plywood around your doors and windows will not stop water damage completely, but it may minimize the damage.
If your home has a basement, consider investing in a sump pump if you don’t already have one. Sump pumps force water outside and away from your home, reducing the chances of flooding.
Place weather stripping around your doors and windows. This small step can prevent water from entering your home and damaging your personal belongings.
Keep drains and gutters clear. When they are clear of debris, they won’t overflow and flood near the foundation, causing water to enter your home.
If you are unsure where to begin or whether it’s safe to proceed, it’s always best to contact a professional experienced in cleaning up water damage after a storm.