Water from flooding or plumbing problems can be a very destructive force in your home. Be prepared for a possible emergency scenario so that you can act quickly should water damage actually occur. Here are the essentials you need to know.
Make sure that your homeowner’s insurance policy covers water damage. Have the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency number handy on your cell phone and land line and on a business card in your wallet in case you do not have access to your telephones.
Maintain an up-to-date list of major possessions and their approximate value, recording new items as you purchase them.
Keep a charged emergency light and a camera easily accessible. Having safety gear (rubber gloves, boots and a face mask) at hand is also recommended.
Show all adult household members where the main switches for electricity and water are.
Teach children to tell a grownup immediately if they see water in any unusual places in the home.
Set up a secure place – a neighbor or relative’s home – to take your kids to in an urgent situation.
Keep copies of important documents such as your house deed on your computer and in a waterproof box. Valuable possessions like jewelry or coin collections should be stored in your safe deposit box when not in use.
Make sure everyone is safe and accounted for.
Call your insurance company and check out the best course of action.
Wear rubber boots or other non-conductive footgear and avoid standing in water. Turn off your main power switch safely; if this is impossible, call a professional electrician.
Identify the source of the water – for example, a roof leak due to heavy rainfall. In a dry area like Nevada, the cause is more likely to be a blocked pipe or an overflowing appliance. Turn off the main source of water and contact a Las Vegas plumber if necessary.
Take photographs or video and make notes on the damage you see.
Open all the windows if it is not raining.
Salvage Your Possessions
Remove small items which are expensive or have sentimental value.
If you can do so safely, unplug your electrical appliances. Move small electronics out of harm’s way. Dry thoroughly before attempting to use them again.
Pull up the carpet (a major water absorber) and remove it to a dry place. The under padding acts like a sponge and will probably have to be discarded.
Movable items, such as upholstered or wooden furniture, that are thoroughly soaked should be taken outside if feasible. Otherwise place them in the shower or bathtub.
Photocopy essential papers if you have not already backed them up.
Remove Standing Water and Clean Up
Distinguish between white water (clean liquid, as from a broken pipe), gray water (containing traces of detergent or food, perhaps from a dishwasher) and black water (contaminated sewage). Hire a professional to deal with toxic black water.
A relatively small amount of water may be cleaned up with mops and old towels, bedding or rags. Clear larger amounts using buckets; empty them down the drain if your pipes are not blocked, otherwise pour the contents onto your lawn. A wet/dry vacuum can be helpful. If there is a great deal of flooding, you may need to rent a sump pump – place it at the lowest point on the flooded floor.
Shovel out any mud.
Wipe any moisture off the walls and ceiling, and then disinfect them to prevent the growth of mildew and mold.
Be very careful when attempting to clean a flooded area. Moisture can do serious damage to drywall. If you have any doubt about the safety of the building structure, get expert help.
Keep all receipts from expenses related to the water damage, such as rental equipment or temporary accommodation, for your insurance claim.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.