For some areas of the U.S., spring showers mean rising water, and rising water means the potential for flooding. While many mortgage companies require flood insurance in certain flood-prone areas, Mother Nature’s fear tactics remind us of the benefits and peace of mind this special coverage provides.
Floods are one of the most common and dangerous natural disasters in the US. You know that your home is protected thanks to Flood Insurance, but if you live in a flood-prone zone, you also need to have a plan in place for the safety of you and your family.
Here’s a quick list of what you can do should your home floods:
Take a Moment
Seeing your home underwater and your belongings saturated is an overwhelming and stressful event. You have to breathe and grieve as you assess the situation. The road ahead will be hard, but you will make it through.
Think Safety First
If you’ve left and returned, before setting foot in your home, walk around the outside of your building and inspect for damage to the exterior to make sure you aren’t at risk of a collapse while you’re inside.
Immediately call you’re the utility company if they are not in the area and you suspect damage has occurred that needs their attention.
Water and electricity don’t mix. Turn your main breaker off and flip the individual fuse switches into the off position. You may need a qualified electrician to inspect, clean, and dry the box before power can be turned back on again.
Get the Right Gear
Stagnant water can carry bacteria along with more obvious chemical contaminants, sewage, garbage, and debris. Plus, water-logged areas can have mold already starting to form. Use rubber boots and waders with water-tight gloves to make sure you aren’t exposed to these potential dangers. And don’t touch your face once you’ve started to clean up.
Call Your Insurance Company
Call your flood insurance provider. They will begin the claims process and schedule an adjuster to visit your home. Depending on your situation, FEMA (1.800.621.3362) may also have free help available.
Collect video evidence of how your home was hit. Go into each room, capturing full images of any and all damage. Pay special attention to the walls, flooring, appliances, and other expensive items that may have been made unusable.
Collect any paperwork that you need to share with the adjuster/insurance agent. Use your phone to take pictures of any paperwork if you don’t have a way to make photocopies. Be sure to keep a file with the date, times, names, and details of any conversations.
- Ventilate the area by opening all doors, windows, cabinets, and drawers
- Don’t plug anything in unless it has been deemed safe by an electrician
- Check with your insurance provider if you can begin repairs.
- If you’ve got the all-clear, begin by removing any standing water.
- Use a dehumidifier and fans to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Move any furniture and rugs that weren’t too badly damaged to your yard and let them sit under the sun directly.
- Remove drywall and insulation, carpets and padding, upholstered furniture, window coverings, and any other household items that cannot be adequately cleaned/sanitized.
- Throw out any unsealed food and/or any food exposed to floodwater
Be Sure to Document All Items Before Discarding Them
You could also use a third-party cleanup crew, allowing a team of professionals to do the hardest work for you. Check and see if your insurance provider will cover the costs of this.
Mitigate the Mold
Mold can develop in a very short time, and exposure to it can be dangerous in the long term. If you come across any while inspecting your home, it needs to be treated immediately. This can be done by mixing a cup of bleach with a gallon of water and scrubbing any spores. While disinfecting, wipe down any countertops and appliances that were exposed to water.
Start the Rebuilding Process
Before you determine which contractor to choose, get multiple bids. You will want to work with a contractor you can trust. Check their online reviews. Research their experience and project history. Check if they are licensed and bonded.
Be Sure to Keep All of Your Receipts.
Flooding can be a terrible tragedy to experience. With these tools and knowledge, you can be prepared to keep your home and family safe when disaster strikes.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.