It’s important to return home as soon as possible to gauge the damage and create a plan for restoring the property, but it may be some time before it’s safe to live in once again. Here are some guidelines for returning home after a serious flood.
Return To Evaluate The Damage
You will immediately want to assess the damage caused by the flood. However, there are some safety concerns you should keep in mind to prevent further damaging the home or harming yourself in the process.
The first thing you will want to look for is fallen power lines. It’s much more likely there will be down power lines if the flood was accompanied by strong winds or storm weather. For example, it’s very common to see down power lines immediately following a hurricane. Do not approach or touch fallen power lines.
While still outside you need to take a step back and examine the home for any visible signs of instability. This may include leaning walls or sagging in the roof. Separation in the foundation or diagonal cracks are also signs of structural damage. Make sure there are no fallen trees leaning against the home either as this could pose a serious threat if you were to go inside.
Avoid Any Possible Contaminants
Flood water is considered contaminated water and could pose a risk to your health. You want to avoid flood water wherever possible as well as other harmful contaminants. You should always assume that flood water is contaminated and toxic. Potential contaminants include mold, debris, and asbestos. If your home was built before 1978 then it’s likely to contain lead based paint, which is also harmful.
Flood water can bring with it all sorts of large debris. Keep an eye out for sharp objects, fiber glass, or other potentially harmful items the water may have pulled into your home.
Flooding may also lead to an infestation of pests. Snakes, rodents, and even fire ants may take up residence in your home directly after a flood. If you see any of the contaminants or signs of damage mentioned above, then you should not enter the building until it is examined by a professional.
Using The Utilities
You should never drink or use your water directly following a flood. Assume the water source is contaminated and wait until you receive notice from the city. If you rely on a private well, then you’ll need to hire a professional to flush and disinfect the water before it is safe to use or drink again.
The electrical breaker and gas supply should both be shut off before inspecting the heating system in the home. Gas based heating and cooling systems should be serviced by professionals before you use them again.
Knowing Your Resources
Take a look at your insurance policy to see what all is covered. Some policies may not cover flooding or mold. You need to know what is covered and exactly how much coverage you have available before planning your next step.
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