You can never underestimate the power of water. While it is one of life’s necessities, it is also considered as one of the most destructive forces of nature which can impose a serious threat to life and property.
Water damage can manifest itself in different signs like water stains and structural indicators. If you see the presence of water stains in your property, make a thorough investigation to identify the cause and source of the water stain so that you will be able to prevent it from spreading and causing extensive damage. As a tip, if the water stain is on the ceiling, roof leaks might be the main cause for it. On the other hand, if your exterior doors and windows have water stains, it is probably from an outside source.
Deterioration of the strength of structural support can also be an indicator of water damage. Early detection of this can be beneficial to you and can increase your chances of saving the equipment and property that you have so that you will not spend more money in restoring or buying new belongings.
Water damage can be caused by a lot of reasons, even the small, mundane leaks from your bathroom is more than enough to damage your property and belongings. On the flip side, it can also be catastrophic such as flash floods which can really bring danger not only to your property, but also to your life. The dangers of water damage can be categorized into two major categories which are health related water damage risks and structure related water damage risks. Read along and find out the different dangers that water damage can potentially bring to you and your property.
Health Related Water Damage Risks
Water damage that is sourced from contaminated or dirty water can be very dangerous to a person’s health. This type of water is a potential breeding ground for microorganisms and bacteria which would lead to sickness and diseases. Dirty water can come from sewage water or polluted sea water.
Mold and mildew thrives on damp and humid conditions, which can be brought about by water damaged property. Inhalation of large amounts of mold and direct exposure can cause immune disorders, cancer and other pathogenic diseases. Molds can also cause bleeding of the lungs, which is a sign of lung damage.
Keep in mind that children who are constantly exposed to molds have higher chances of developing asthma when they grow up.
There are many types of exposure to molds and they are: direct physical contact, ingestion and inhalation. Some molds have the ability to give off toxins which are called mycotoxins. These are clinically proven to be hazardous to a person if he is exposed to high levels of the said substance.
Molds only need 24-48 hours to accumulate and survive in humid conditions. In order to eradicate the dangers of this substance, it is better to respond quickly and efficiently in order to eliminate the problem.
Exposure to water damage, mold and mildew can also instigate the onset of allergic reactions which would lead to nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and difficulty of breathing which can cause an asthma attack. Allergic reactions can also lead to chronic fatigue, vision and sinus problems, mood swings and vertigo.
Diseases that are caused by molds are usually respiratory problems which happen when a person inhales a large amount of the substance.
Exposure to contaminated water can also give water borne diseases to a person. Examples of which are: ameobiasis, cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever.
Ameobiasis is an intestinal infection caused by an amoeba. It is usually transmitted by contamination of drinking water. Cholera is an infectious gastroenteritis caused by bacteria which is transmitted by intake of contaminated food and water. Dysentery is an infection of the digestive system that can result to severe diarrhea and presence of blood in the feces. Lastly, typhoid fever is a sickness caused by a specific kind of salmonella bacterium. It is very common worldwide and is transmitted by ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces that came from an infected person.
Structure Related Water Damage Risks
As mentioned before, water can be a very powerful and destructive force. It can damage property and increase risks that might lead to the collapse of a structure. If the water seeps in the structure, it can deteriorate its strength and stability. Here are some examples of water damage risks which can greatly affect any given structure.
Water damage can affect structural stability like the sagging of walls and ceilings, swelling and warping of wood and stairs, collapsing of roofs and floors due to the seepage of water in its core structure.
Before going inside your property, make sure that it is in a stable condition. Make a quick check by looking at the walls and ceilings, if majority of it is sagging already, you might want to stay away because the whole structure might collapse. Water seepage can decrease the stability of structures and make it very fragile. If doors and windows are affected by the water damage, prop them up and reinforce the structure by boarding it up with plywood.
If you cannot assess the safety of the structure, it is better to have a professional opinion regarding the matter. Once the property is deemed safe to be entered, exercise caution in entering. It is safer to wear protective clothing and equipment which can minimize your direct exposure to the contaminated water. Use plastic disposable gloves if you want to touch something that is water damaged. Goggles and boots are also helpful because it can protect your eyes and feet from being contaminated. A respirator or facial mask can also come handy so you won’t inhale the molds and mildew that come from the water damage. A head gear or a strong helmet will also help protect you from any falling debris that might drop on you.
- Affect electrical systems
Water can greatly affect electrical systems and can cause it to malfunction which can lead to electrocution and fire. Electrical injuries are also probable, common examples of which are: electric shock, electrical or thermal burns and loss of muscle control.
Electric shock occurs when the body is directly exposed to 50 volts and above. This can lead to muscle spasms, difficulty in breathing and irregular heart beat. The degree of electric shock is based on the following: dampness of the body, level of voltage that the body had been exposed to, the particular body parts that were affected and the length of time that the body was exposed to the voltage.
Electrical burns are caused when electrical current runs up the body and heats a tissue which is along the electrical flow. In severe cases of electrical burns, major surgery might be required to reverse the effects.
On the other hand, thermal burns are caused by faulty and overloaded electrical systems which can lead the equipment or appliance to heat up and get very hot. Thermal burns happen when you get in direct physical contact with the hot equipment.
Loss of muscle control is commonly caused by electric shock. If the shock levels are great, it might lead to strong spasms which in turn, can dislocate joints or break bones.
Faulty electrical systems can also cause fire in the property which can further damage the structure. This can also present a serious danger to the lives of people inside or near the property. To eliminate the chances of faulty electrical systems, turn off the main electrical power switch. This is usually located in the basement or outside the house. Familiarize yourself with the location of this switch and learn how to switch it off so that you will know what to do once the need arises.
- Household items, furniture and equipment can be damaged
Of course, your property which is placed inside the structure will not be safe. It is possible to get mud and dirt in your things, peeling of the paint from walls and ceilings, presence of stains the carpets which can lead to rotting, stains on textiles and furniture and important documents, books, photographs and paintings can be damaged.
In trying to save your things and property, make a quick assessment and categorize your things depending on its value. Place high priority for irreplaceable and valuable documents. For irreplaceable books and documents, you can opt to place second priority to save these things.
In order to eliminate the dangers of water damage, it is best to act and respond quickly to counter it. The effects of water damage is progressive, it can get worse and worse after the actual direct contact with water. The ideal response time is before 24 hours so make sure that you and your family members are well-informed about what to do to make dealing with the situation easier.