After The Waters Recede: Why Quick Action Counts After A Flood

Flooding is one of the most devastating things that can happen to your home. It's also the one of the most common natural disasters in the United States, with all 50 states experiencing either flooding or flash floods at some point. If your home is flooded, you may be traumatized, dislocated or homeless for a short time, and unable to process exactly what flood damage means to your home. However, you need to take quick action after a flood if you want to save your home from becoming uninhabitable. Here's why taking quick action is important after a flood, and what you should do to get your home back in good shape.

Cost of property damage after a flood

Depending on the area that flood waters affect, there can be thousands of dollars worth of property damage to contend with. Even minor flooding can be financially catastrophic, damaging flooring, seeping into furniture and damaging electronic devices that are within the flood water's reach.

Flood insurance will help cover things like flood damage restoration costs, but only if you have an actual flood insurance policy. If you're not sure whether you're covered in the event of a flood (caused by a natural disaster, not a burst pipe or other preventable issue), you're probably not adequately insured. Contact your insurance company to find out how to increase your coverage to include flood protection. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after a flood, so they can begin the claims process and get your repairs paid for.

Health risks after a flood

After your home has been flooded, check for obvious signs of structural damage, such as cracks in walls or the foundation. Turn off all electricity until you're certain that it's safe to have it turned back on; standing water and electricity are a deadly combination. If there's water standing in your home, wear rubber boots or waders and gloves to handle wet things. Flood water can carry bacteria, waste matter and other nasty things that you don't want to come into contact with directly, so use caution when sorting through your things.

The longer you leave your home untreated after a flood, the worse the damage will be. Mold and bacteria can begin spreading and taking over your home within 24 to 36 hours after a flood. Mold can cause serious problems for people with breathing problems, and in large amounts, it can make even healthy people sick. Bacteria from wastewater brought into your home after a flood can cause everyone who comes into contact with it to be sick. 

You may be tempted to tackle drying out your home by yourself, but remember that time is of the essence when you're trying to prevent mold and bacteria from spreading. Professional water damage cleanup companies have the necessary equipment to clean up the water quickly to minimize the risk of these pathogens growing and spreading. If you do see mold growing inside your home after a flood, wear a protective mask to avoid breathing it in, and contact a mold removal specialist to see how extensive the problem is.

Plan ahead

The best way to take quick action after a flood is to be prepared. Don't wait until storms are predicted to check and see if you have flood insurance, because some policies don't go into effect immediately. Also, don't assume that just because your home is in a "low risk" area that you won't need any sort of flood protection plan. Make a plan of action, detailing what you would do in case of a flood, and discuss the plan with your family. Locate your electricity sources in your home so you'll know where to switch them off, and take down the number of a water damage restoration company, just in case.

It's better to be proactive than reactive, but if you do have to deal with the aftermath of a flood, act quickly to minimize your financial losses and health risks.