What To Do In The First 24 Hours After Your House Gets Flooded
Was your home affected by the recent floods? Here's how to salvage what you can, and be safe at the same time.
The recent strong rains from Tropical Storm Karding have wreaked havoc on many homes due to the flash floods. But after bringing the whole family to safety, the fact remains that you do have to go back to your flooded home and deal with the damage and cleanup. It may seem like an incredibly daunting task, but here’s how to do it in steps (and don’t forget to bring extra people to help you):
1. Protect yourself
Floodwater is contaminated with all sorts of bacteria, pollutants, and possibly sewage, so you have to gear up before you wade in. Wear thick and high rubber boots, and wear rubber gloves before you handle anything. Bring in several flashlights or emergency lights, since you’ll be turning off the power. Another important note: keep children or the elderly away from the house until you’ve cleared and cleaned it.
2. Switch off all electric sources
Locate the main and carefully switch it off to shut down all possible electrical sources and protect yourself from electrocution.
3. Take photos
Before you move anything, take as many photos as you can of the damaged areas. This could be useful if you had your house insured against such calamities, or in case you will be filing for a PAG-IBIG calamity loan.
4. Inspect and assess for structural damage
Make sure the house’s structure is safe before you enter it—if a typhoon had passed, part or all of your roof structure may be damaged. Watch out for buckling walls, or holes in the floor. When in doubt, don’t enter.
5. Bring in the cleanup gear
This may include: a hose (linked to a clean water source), several pails, mops, squeegees, large garbage bags, detergent, disinfectant liquid, large basins to soak soiled linen and curtains. If there is a lot of water, you may need to rent a pump and a generator.
6. Drain the water
Start draining the water in stages. Depending on how much water there is, this may take longer than a day. Use a pail (or a generator-driven pump) to remove the standing water. Mop up any remaining water. Houses located near mountains, rivers, or creeks usually have the problem of mud, as well. After removing the water, you’d have to hose out the residual mud. Discard all garbage and debris that may have floated in.
7. Inspect your furniture and appliances
You’d have to judge for yourself how salvageable flood-damaged household item is, but most are still okay as long as they have not sat in a flood for more than two days. However, for safety reasons, it is best to throw flooded appliances out.
8. Clean and disinfect the surfaces
Depending on the extent of damage, this step could take more than a day. Hose down and rinse the walls and floor, and then disinfect and let dry. Sturdy wooden furniture can be wiped down and disinfected, and upholstered sofas or chairs may have to be reupholstered if soaked through. If the laminate furniture looks severely warped, you may have to discard it. Mattresses, for sanitary reasons, should be professionally cleaned or replaced. Carpets can be washed and cleaned up. Curtains and bed linen should be removed and soaked immediately in detergent and color-safe disinfectant (that’s what the basins are for).
Once these have been done, you can start repairing whatever interior or exterior damages the flood has wrought on your home. Depending on the extent of damage, this could take any where from a few days to a couple of months. If you are unsure of the safety and state of the home, contact a professional, such as an architect or a structural or civil engineer immediately.
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