Water damage can be very dangerous to any business or home, not to mention it can also pose a threat on you and your loved ones’ health and well-being. It can be foreseen, but oftentimes ignored until it already affects us.
Fast action is needed to treat water damage to prevent it from getting worse. The ideal time for you to get rid of water damage is within 48 hours of its occurrence, because this is the time needed for mold and other dangerous organisms to grow. Quick response to water damage will help minimize the chances of it posing as a serious threat in your health, home and business.
In order to help you be informed about water damage, here are some important facts that you need to know so that you will best be equipped in facing this kind of situation.
What is water damage?
Water damage refers to losses that a person incurs due to unwarranted presence of water in his house structure or belongings. This can possibly lead to total destruction of property. It can start small with water spots that can deteriorate a small area in your house or it can also be a major water damage which can be caused by flash floods.
What are the categories of water damage?
Water damage can further be classified in three categories: Category 1 Water, Category 2 Water and Category 3 Water. Category 1 Water refers to water damage brought about by clean water, which are not harmful to a person’s health. Clean water can be from sink overflows or leaks from a water pipe. Category 2 Water or gray water happens when the water damage is caused by a source of water which has significant levels of chemicals that can cause diseases when consumed or exposed to. Examples of which are water from toilets with urine and used water from the dishwasher or washing machine. These sources of water might contain microorganisms which can be detrimental to a person’s health. Lastly, Category 3 Water is also known as black water and is highly unsanitary. Sources of this kind of water are sewage and sea water. This kind of water possibly contains fungi and bacteria which can cause diseases.
Remember that even if the water levels are decreasing, you still cannot guarantee the safety of your property, as well as your own safety. While damages on house structure and property cause great loss, there’s no arguing that your family’s wellbeing is still the most important thing to safeguard during water damage hazards.
Read along these helpful tips on how to stay safe when water damage happens.
- Gauge the safety levels of your property
Before entering your property, make sure that you determine its structural safety first. To do this, check the walls and ceilings first. If you notice that it is sagging or on the verge of falling, do not enter the premises.
If you cannot determine if a building is safe to enter, then wait for professional advice before entering.
Even if the building is deemed safe to enter, still, be cautious in entering. Watch out for debris that can fall and harm you. Put on protective gear to ensure your safety. Walk carefully and if you need to touch things, make sure you have protective rubber gloves.
If your house is perceived as unsafe to enter or live in, it is better to make arrangements for an alternative accommodation for you and your family. Keep track of all the expenses that you will incur caused by the water damage, chances are, your insurance will answer all the expenses or they will shoulder a percentage of what you’ve spent based on your home insurance plan.
It is best to consult an engineer or contractor when it comes to assessing the structural safety of your property. If there are any installations which are damaged and decayed, reinforce them by installation of supporting structures.
- Turn off your main power supply
If your power lines are on, turn off the power supply by switching off the main circuit breaker, which is usually located in the basement or outside the house. Make sure that you familiarize yourself and each of your family members on how to safely turn off the circuit breaker so that you can do this with ease once the need arises.
Do not remove any water stain or excess water by using your vacuum cleaner. Refrain from using electrical appliances on wet floors or surface. This will increase your chances of getting electrocuted.
If you are using a generator, make sure that it is located in an open area. The generator will release carbon monoxide which can be harmful to your health.
- Switch off your water supply
The main valve of the water supply is usually located in the basement or outside the house. Close it by turning the valve clockwise. You might need to use a wrench in doing this or if you need professional help, it’s best to call your neighborhood plumber to do it for you.
For the meantime, use bottled water for drinking, cooking and washing clothes. Make sure that the water is safe to use before switching on your water supply.
- Watch out for displaced animals
Usually when flooding occurs, animals are displaced and can end up in your property. Rodents, stray pets and even reptiles can seek shelter in your house after the floods. Be careful in approaching any kind of stray animal. If it is possible, contact the local animal control office for help.
Floods and other forms of water can have contaminants which can be harmful to your health. Make sure that you wear safety gear when entering a water damaged property. Some of the important safety gears that you should have are: plastic gloves, goggles, respirator, head gear, any kind of disposable clothing or lab coat and rubber boots.
Also, remember to use an antiseptic to clean your hands after you’ve been exposed to a water damaged area.
- Ensure your family’s safety
Life is a very valuable thing. Safeguard yourself and your family members, especially the children, when you are faced with a problem like this. Your best cure for this problem is information. If you know what to do, you can inform your family and the people around you of what would be the best thing to do. Panicking can only make things worse so make sure that you are facing the problem calmly.
If you’ve been victimized by water damage, the worse is far from over. Recovering from the damage is also a big problem. Assessing the property damage and trying to salvage your belongings are very stressful and worrisome activities. It is important, however, that you secure your property after the water damage so you can prevent it from deteriorating more. Also, there is an increased chance of salvaging your belongings if you act quickly.
After the water damage, it is best to air dry all your possessions which were soaked in water. Keep it in a safe, dry and locked area to prevent robbery. If you notice that your property is vandalized or robbed, it is best to contact your local police to file a police report which can also help in your insurance claims.
In securing your property, keep in mind the following:
- For properties with minor damage
It is important to keep all your things safe and secure. Lock the doors or keep it in a locked facility for the meantime to prevent theft. If your windows and doors are damaged, you can board it up for the meantime or cover it with plywood. It is also advisable to cover it with plastic sheets to prevent it from getting more water damage.
Transfer your wet possessions to a dry and ventilated area. This will enable your things to dry out faster.
If your documents and other paperwork are affected, use caution when handling these things because it can be extremely fragile when wet. Refrain from storing them in closed plastic bags because molds thrive in this kind of environment. Molds can be dangerous to your health, especially with people who have respiratory diseases. To eliminate the presence of mildew and molds, use electric fans or dehumidifiers for better air circulation.
If you can, air dry your wet possessions indoor, because direct exposure to sunlight can lead to warping and deformation.
- For properties with major damage
If your property has major damage, it is best to assess which things can further be saved and move it to another place, possibly a friend’s home or a storage facility.
- Track your expenses for insurance purposes
As mentioned before, your insurance will most likely cover the expenses that you will incur caused by water damage. Contact your insurance agent to make sure and inform them of your situation which can lead them to act faster.
However trite the adage sounds, prevention being better than cure, is always true. Additionally, preventive measures can be lessened if you’ve already prepared for any natural calamity that might happen to you and your family. Water damage is a devastating occurrence, but you can weather it better if you are informed and well-prepared.