Responding To A Household Flood

One of the nightmares for a homeowner is coming home to find their house flooded. Whether it's a broken water main or a disconnected dishwasher drain, you'll need to be ready to respond quickly to minimize the personal items that are damaged. Here are some of the actions to include in your plan of attack should you find your home full of water.

Safety First

If there is any chance that the water is covering light switches or electrical outlets, do not step in the water or touch anything that is wet. There is a risk of electrocution if any electrical wires are wet. If the circuit panel for the house is in a dry area, switch off the master switch to cut off power to the entire house. If it is in a wet area, call an electrician to turn off the power safely for you.

Determine the Flood Water Source

How easily you can recover from a flood depends primarily on where the water came from. Professional water restoration specialists classify flood water in one of three ways. This will help you to decide what can be recovered from the flood.

  • Category 1 water contains few microorganisms that could make you ill if you swallow it. An example is a broken fresh water supply line.
  • Category 2 water contains more microorganisms and will likely make you sick if you drank the water. A broken dishwasher drain pipe falls in this category.
  • Category 3 water contains high levels of contaminants and will probably make you quite ill if you drank it. A ruptured city sewer pipe discharges category 3 water.

The more contaminants in the water, the harder it is to save a personal item soaked with it. Category 3 water-soaked items require extensive disinfecting to be safe again. Those items may not survive the process, so you may as well plan to discard them. Items damaged by category 1 and 2 flood water need some disinfecting, but will usually make it through the process.

Get Personal Items Out of the Flood Water

Some items become more difficult to recover the longer they stay submerged or soaked. For example, carpet left in flood water longer than 24 hours can develop mold. This will make them harder to save as they must be disinfected thoroughly to make sure they aren't a health hazard to you and your family.

Call Your Insurance Agent

After your brief assessment of the situation, contact your insurance agent. They will have recommendations as to plumbers, electricians and water recovery specialists that can help. Before a flood occurs, it's a good idea to have your insurance agent explain what your responsibility is and what responsibility the insurance company has in a flood. You may discover that you need additional coverage to be fully protected.

It's a good idea to have a plan in mind should you have a flood. Quick action will help you to save as many of your personal items from being damaged as possible. Go over the plan with your insurance agent to make sure you have all of the important areas covered.