So you’ve just survived a flood. What next? The time immediately following a flood is the most crucial if you are expecting to recover any personal property that may have been damaged by the floodwaters. However, hasty recovery tactics can lead to further damage of your property and potential harm to yourself and your loved ones. The best way to recover from a flood is to determine the type of flood you’ve experienced, the extent of the damage that has occurred, and the safest way to go about salvaging your belongings.
Floods are incredibly common in the United States. Some floods develop slowly and can take days to reach their peak. Flash floods, on the other hand, can come about within a matter of minutes from seemingly nowhere. Floods that occur near a defined lake or river are called overland flooding and are often weather related. Dam breaks are often a common cause of flooding.
It is very important to know the immediate dangers that exist in a post-flood area. Standing floodwaters may be contaminated by oils, fuels or sewage, or be electrically charged from downed power lines. Dangerous wildlife, like snakes, can also be a threat in floodwaters. Be wary of any wild animals in post-flood areas. If possible, you should avoid all areas with remaining floodwater. Never attempt to enter moving floodwater; it takes only moving water six inches deep to sweep you off your feet.
Standing and moving water are not the only dangerous areas to be in after a flood. Dry areas may have experienced changes in their structural integrity if the flood affected them at all. Floodwaters erode previously familiar roads and walkways, making them dangerous new territories. Building foundations are also susceptible to floods. Never try to reenter your home and office immediately after a flood as the floors and stairs may no longer be safe. Instead, walk at a safe distance around your home and check for loose or downed power lines, gas leaks, structural damage, and any other potentially dangerous damage. Call a qualified building inspector if you suspect your building has sustained any dangerous flood damage. Only inspectors or structural engineers will be able to help you recover or rebuild parts of your property that have been damaged by floodwaters.
After you’ve established that it is safe to enter your property, the next thing you need to do is determine which of your valuables and personal belongings are salvageable. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that just because water damages photos, books or documents, they must throw it away. This is rarely so. Proper document recovery techniques and document restoration companies can help you stem the loss of your most beloved belongings.
The best technique for recovering your water-damaged personal effects is the desiccant air dry distribution system. Few companies offer this state-of-the-art recovery technique, but it is worth your time and effort to seek out one that does. The desiccant air dry technique works by removing moisture from the air surrounding your items, allowing the water that is trapped inside them to evaporate quickly and harmlessly. It is energy efficient and safe, and some companies will allow you access to your documents and valuables during the recovery process.
Another great technique for property restoration is vacuum-freeze drying. This works on the same principle as the desiccant air dry system and is best for recovering books and photo albums. Be careful, though; some vacuum-freeze techniques can leave your valuables warped. Make sure you choose a company with technology that distributes air evenly in the vacuum chamber.
If you are going to turn to restoration specialists make sure their techniques completely dry your items. Mold damage can occur long after a flood if valuables aren’t entirely dry before they are returned and can be an incredible pain to deal with as well.
Floods can be quite tragic, and there is no sure way to prevent your home, office, or personal belongings from being lost. However, you can take simple steps to make sure that you and your loved ones are protected from harm and that damaged items are returned to as close to their original condition as possible.