Actions to Take Immediately After a Flash Flood
Flash floods are the #1 cause of weather-related death in the United States. They can rip out boulders, uproot trees, and destroy any structure in their path. Surviving the flash flood event doesn’t mean you’re out of danger. Floodwaters create hazardous situations that can last for days or even weeks. Learn what to do to stay safe and restore your home or business after a flash flood.
As Soon as the Waters Recede
As soon as local emergency officials declare your area safe to return, you can begin to assess the damage to your property. It may be difficult to see the damage done in such a short time, but the faster you begin the restoration process, the more problems you can prevent.
If you are able, call a qualified, professional flood restoration specialist, such as ServiceMaster of San Francisco before you return to your property. They are trained to assess both the obvious and damage that might not be readily apparent.
First 24 – 48 Hours
Your first priority should be to dry out your property as quickly as you can, without causing further damage. Your restoration specialist will advise you on specific steps to take, but in general, follow these tips:
- If there is standing water in your basement or ground level, pump it out slowly to avoid structural damage. Remove about 1/3 of the water per day.
- Once the standing water is gone, remove all furniture and other items from the affected areas of the building. Bring them outside or to another area to dry. Use fans to speed up the drying process inside your home or office.
- Throw away any food items that have come in contact with floodwater. You should always assume that floodwaters are contaminated.
Floodwaters often conceal other dangers, such as broken glass, electrical wires, and weakened structures. When enter an area affected by flooding, keep safety in mind at all times. Follow these tips to avoid the most common hazards:
- Avoid crossing moving water. It only takes 6 inches of moving water to knock down an adult, and 2 feet of water to wash away most vehicles.
- Look for signs of downed power lines or damaged electrical equipment. Unless you are absolutely certain that the power is shut off, assume that any water may be electrified.
- Standing water can conceal hazards including weakened roadways and bridges. Do not assume that any structure is safe to enter or cross unless emergency crews have checked it or you can personally verify its stability and ability to bear weight.
- Never drink, cook with, or wash in floodwaters. It is safest to assume that all floodwater is contaminated with raw sewage. If you must use floodwater, boil it for at least 1 minute to kill any bacteria before using.
Rebuilding and Restoration
Rebuilding your home or business is an important step toward returning life to normal. Hiring a reputable restoration professional will make that process go much more smoothly than if you tried to rebuild yourself. Avoid contractors that contact you unsolicited after a flood – many are fly-by-night operations preying on disaster victims. Hire a company with a longstanding reputation for quality work and fast response time.
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