Many articles have been written about the topic of flood damage. Whenever there is a possibility of flooding such as in the situation of an approaching storm, there is no shortage of warnings to residents about what they should do to protect themselves. Access to media also means the ability to retrieve data on the effects of flooding on life and property.
Aside from natural causes, flooding can be brought on by reasons that are more commonplace. Although they can easily be traced, this does not mean that the flooding is no less disastrous for the property owner. For example a sewer can get clogged by damage in the pipes and cause material to flow towards the home rather than away from it. As any homeowner can testify to, the risk of a burst pipe is always present.
Most of the damages caused by flooding are easy to discern. Soaked furniture and rusting are consequences that are quite obvious to the property homeowner. However, these are not the only things that are contended with when it comes to the concept of flood damage. Read on to find out more about the hidden dangers that extend beyond the usual.
Depending on the kind of flooding that occurs, some can bring in noxious waste material inside the property. It is not just the presence of water that needs to be dealt with. In addition to this, what the water brings with it also merits consideration. Waste contains parasites and germs that can cause diseases to residents of the property. Hepatitis, gastroenteritis, and rashes are only some of the illnesses that property owners have to be wary of in the event that flooding occurs.
Aside from the health considerations, flood damage can bring with it waste material that can diminish the value of the property. One of the most noticeable effects of waste material in the home or building is the smell. Even just a small amount can make the environment unpleasant to live in and in extreme cases, even make it difficult for people to breathe.
Flood damage caused by the presence of waste material can also come in the form of discoloration of the affected areas. It is usually the floors and the walls that are disturbed and turn into a yellow or brown color. The watermarks can be quite difficult to clean, particularly if the flood water stagnates for a long time.
Cleaning products, paints, and other common household items can be hazardous in the face of floodwaters. These things can be quite safe as long as their use is controlled and follows the manufacturer’s instructions. During a flood, it is quite possible for these chemicals to spill especially when they are stored in low areas such as basements and garages. Even if the chemicals do not spill, the flood damage can extend to destroying the labels in the container. This can make it difficult to use even if the contents are left intact. In some instances, the floodwater can actually bring in these household chemicals from other places such as the homes of neighbors or those that are found in the street.
Exposure to these common household chemicals can be quite dangerous. When they come in contact with skin, the chemicals can cause burning and irritation sensations. If the chemicals are highly concentrated, they can even result in coughing and choking fits. While these situations are serious enough as it is, if the damage caused by the floodwater is not cleaned immediately, the prolonged chemical exposure can permanently damage the eyes and the lungs.
Take note that flooding can cause damage that will allow various chemicals to mix together leading to undesirable consequences. For example, ammonia and bleach, two common household items, can produce chlorine gas. Chlorine gas can be lethal when inhaled.
Flood damage can go beyond just destroying the carpets, furniture, and other parts of the house. The water can also reach the electrical system of the house and bring on the risk of fire or electrocution. The electrical wiring of a property is particularly sensitive to exposure to water. In fact, they are often the first ones that are damaged when floodwater enters the property.
The basic principle behind water and electricity is that they should be kept away from each other. Anyone who has experienced accidentally touching an outlet when the hands are wet can reinforce this idea. Imagine magnifying the shock this situation causes several times. This is exactly what happens during a flood because in the latter situation, the electrical systems are underwater for longer periods of time.
The flood damage can also be structural and cause the system to be destroyed permanently. When signs of damage such as fluctuating power are seen, property owners should not deal with the damage themselves. In this situation, a professional should be called in to make the necessary assessments and repairs. It is only upon their approval that the occupants of the home or building should be allowed to enter once again. To minimize the risk of damaging the electrical system during a flood, it is recommended for the outlets, circuit breakers, and the like be placed at least a foot above the floor.
Natural Gas and Propane Dangers
Flooding can knock out the pipes that supply the gas into various properties. When gases are found in places where they should not be, this situation is called a gas leak. This is a very dangerous situation because it can cause air poisoning and even fires.
Natural gas is actually odorless but for safety considerations, gas companies add a smell that is reminiscent of rotten eggs to make leaks easy to detect. After a flooding, property owners should be aware that it is quite possible for the gas lines to be affected and exercise caution. In the event that a gas leak is detected, the premises should be vacated as soon as possible. Doors and windows should be left open to avoid the natural gas from being locked in and accumulating.
Do not, under any circumstances, take the time to turn off or unplug any of the appliances or turn off the lights in the vicinity. Although most people believe that this will lessen the risk of danger, these can actually cause a spark that will ignite a gas fire. Also, this will also take precious time when it is of utmost importance to leave the area to avoid the danger.
Although already at a safe distance from the home, refrain from smoking or lighting cigarettes. Even flashlights should be used with restraint because these can cause sparks as well. Gas leaks can occur even in the outdoors and they are much more difficult to detect. To recognize the presence of gas leaks outside, pay attention to the presence of bubbles in the floodwater and a hissing sound.
Once everyone is safely evacuated, place a call to the gas company or the local emergency hotlines to report the occurrence of the flood and the suspicion of damage to the gas pipes. Do not make a call within the home because even the operation of a phone can cause a spark to occur. Rather, use a payphone or a neighbor’s telephone.
It is important to remember that no one should return to the home until the gas company representative made the proper inspections and deemed the area safe for inhabitation again. It is also a good idea to install a gas detector unit in the home to identify and alert the property owners of the presence of gases.
One of the least known effects of flood damage is the spread of disease through the droppings of vermin such as rats and pigeons. The waste material of animals can often be found outside the home and when there is water, they are washed away and transported to various areas, including homes where they can enter the body through ingestion or touch. Two of the most common diseases that are caused by flooding are Leptospirosis and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPV).
Leptospirosis is an illness that is caused by bacteria that can result in damage to the kidney, brain, and liver. Its symptoms include fever, vomiting, and pain in the muscles and abdomen. On the other hand, HPV can cause bleeding, fever, and renal failure. In extreme cases, both of these diseases can lead to death.
When flooding occurs in the home or building, it cannot be emphasized enough that cleanup processes should be done immediately. The water needs to be drained and the area sanitized to remove any bacteria, virus, or mold that the floodwater brought in. Most commercial cleaners available in the market can do the job of disinfecting the property. However, pay close attention that all the surfaces touched by the water are cleaned. In addition to this, it should be noted that not all items can still be salvaged after they have been submerged in the flood water. Porous items such as upholstered furniture and carpeting are quite difficult to clean because the pathogens can seep down deep within the fibers and elude the cleansing action. In these cases, it is better to simply replace them.