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Paula Hensley, August 26 2021

Initial Cleanup Steps Following a Water Event

Floods can be devastating.  However, since flooding is the most common natural disaster, clear guidelines have been devised for salvaging possessions and restoring properties after a major water event. 

The first step following a water disaster is to remove all wet possessions from the premises. Mold grows on wet surfaces and can create a serious health risk, so it’s important to remove we items from your home as soon as possible. FEMA recommends not waiting for your insurance adjuster before doing so. 

To help you remove soaked items safely and effectively, use the following steps as your initial salvage guide.

Practice safety first. Do not re-enter your home unless it is safe. Even then, be vigilant inside, as floors and stairs may be slippery.Document the damage. Your insurance company will need to see evidence of the damage. Take photos and videos of each item and the damage it has sustained.Call your insurance provider. Your insurance agent is an integral part of the recovery process and should be contacted as soon as possible. However, do not wait until he or she arrives to begin removing wet items from the flooded home.Prioritize your possessions. Go through your home, identify the objects that seem like they can be salvaged first, and remove the items among them that are most important to you. Air out your home. Air circulation is key to drying out surfaces and possessions in your home and preventing further damage. Open vents, windows, and doors. Run the air conditioner. Use fans and dehumidifiers to reduce humidity and limit mold growth.Be gentle. Many objects will be more delicate when wet, so it is important to handle them gently. Rinse with clean water. If items are wet, rinse each with clean water before setting aside to dry.Use clean cloths. Remove debris from dry items with a soft, clean cloth. Avoid heavy scrubbing, as it might further damage your possessions.

After these initial steps in the salvage process, you next will need to follow specialized processes to save possessions depending on their materials. In the upcoming sections, we will explain various ways to salvage different possessions damaged by water, such as furniture, photographs, and books. 

Written by

Paula Hensley

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