Knowing what to do after a flood is half of the battle in flood restoration and remediation. How you react can save you time, money, and stress. Following a flood, there are some basic precautions and actions you can take to get your home on the road to recovery. Most importantly, remember to stay safe and always listen to the advice of the emergency services.
At the start of 2020, the UK was ravaged by 3 storms in quick succession - Storm Ciara, Storm Dennis, and Storm Jorge brought weather warnings and widespread issues. High wind, heavy rain, and low temperatures impacted travel, caused power cuts, affected phone coverage, and lead to the damage of buildings, bridges, and roads. In the worst affected areas, flooding from surface water and rivers devastated some communities - damaging homes and businesses.
If you are unfortunate enough to experience flooding in your home, be aware that there will be procedures put in place by your local authority, emergency services, Citizens’ Advice Bureau to assist you in removing flood water, dealing with waste, and providing temporary accommodation.
What Are the Effects Of Flooding?
The effects of flooding can be devastating form homes, businesses, and communities. As well as the immediate risk to life, the financial impact, economic loss, emotional strain, and property damage, flooding also results in several other health and safety risks. Electrical damage, electrical hazards, sanitation problems, contamination, damaged drainage and sewage systems, landslides, and the presence of sharp objects like glass and metal should all be considered.
What To Do After A Flood
Before re-entering your home, you must check with the emergency services that it is safe to do so. Contact your insurance company and follow their advice. They may arrange to send someone out to you to take stock of the damage. Switch off your mains gas and electricity supply. You may need to speak to your power supplier to get this done. Wear appropriate safety equipment such as boots, gloves, and other clothing. You can wear a face mask and goggles, as cleaning can cause water to splash from scrubbing, hosing, or pressure-washing. You should treat flood water as contaminated water, so you should take appropriate precautions when dealing with anything that has come into contact with the floodwater. Take lots of pictures of your home and property once you return and during the cleaning up and drying out process, as evidence for your insurance company.
Removing Flood Water From A Building
Use a submersible water pump to remove large amounts of floorwater from your home. You may also need a generator to power the flood pump. Please be aware that the floodwater levels outside your home must be lower than those inside your home before you can use a flood pump. Once the bulk of the flood water has been removed, you can use a wet-dry vacuum cleaner to clear up any residual water. Use a shovel to remove any sludge and mud that may have entered your home during the flood. Open any doors and windows to allow a flow of air through the home – this will aid the drying process.
Cleaning Up Following A Flood
Once the floodwater has been removed from your home, you can begin the cleaning up and drying out processes. Thoroughly clean all surfaces, walls, and floors - especially the underside and inside of cabinets and cupboards. Before using any water from your taps, you should check with your local authority that the water supply is safe to use. Then clean and disinfect your taps thoroughly and allow them to run for a while before use. Also clean and disinfect plates, pans, cutlery, chopping boards, etc. before using them again. Throw away any wooden chopping boards and utensils if they have come into contact with floodwater. Wash any soft items like clothing, bedding, and children’s toys, on a 60°C cycle with detergent. If your drainage system has problems, wash soft items in a laundrette until your wastewater system has been checked.
Use a pressure washer to clean the external area around the house, including driveways, walls, and patios. Pressure washers cause a lot of spray and splashback, so wear protective clothing to prevent coming into contact with any flood waste. If you come across any damaged photos or documents during the clean-up process, don’t try to dry them straight away. Place the documents in a plastic bag and store them in a fridge/freezer until you can get them to a specialist.
Drying A Building After A Flood
Establishing a flow of air around your home is important following a flood, to aid the drying out process. As discussed earlier, you should open doors and windows at every available opportunity. Use a dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air as it flows around the home. Air movement pulls water from damp surfaces such as walls, floors, and dehumidifiers draw the moisture out from the air and deposit it into a water collection tank, or they can pump it away from the area. You can also use heaters and floor and carpet dryers to speed up the drying process. Diesel space heaters, electric fan heaters, and infrared heaters are all suitable, but LPG and gas fuelled heaters produce a lot of water vapour and unwanted humidity. If your central heating has been checked and approved as safe to use by an engineer, you can set a temperature between 20°C to 22°C to aid the drying process.
Before Reoccupying A Building
Completely drying out a home following a major flood can take a long time. You must not move back into your house until your local authority has deemed it safe to do so, and once the water supply has been inspected and declared safe. Every flood-contaminated room must have been thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and surface-dried. All contaminated dishes and utensils must have been thoroughly washed and disinfected. Adequate toilet facilities must also be available.
Remember that the most important thing is to stay safe. Take appropriate precautions and follow the advice of the emergency services, your insurance company and local authorities.
If you are affected by flooding and need any of the pumping, cleaning, or dying equipment mentioned in this blog, we have stores nationwide, and we can deliver to your door. You can order online and by phone, and our hire team can answer any questions that you might have.