How can I safely inspect my house after water damage?

Dangers are not over when the water goes down. Do not endanger yourself or your family after a water event. Keep children and pets away. Try to protect yourself and your family from stress, fatigue, and water-related health hazards.

Follow these basic safety rules:

  • Determine Structural Stability
Determine whether your property is structurally safe to enter. Before entering your home or business, take a look at the ceiling and supporting walls. Do not enter if the ceiling is sagging due to water buildup or if walls have collapsed.

If you are not certain the building is safe or if you have any question regarding personal safety, stay out and have a professional make an assessment.
If the building is determined safe, walk in carefully and inspect indoor stability. Do not enter any deep standing water.

If your property is determined unsafe or you cannot live in your home while repairs are being made, make arrangements for temporary alternate lodging. Keep records of all additional expenses incurred as a result. Most insurance policies will cover additional living expenses.

  • Cut off power supply
Assume all power lines are active and functioning. Avoid using any electrical appliances especially while standing on wet carpets or floors. Be sure to let the engine cool off before refueling and avoid using extension cords The generator's engine releases carbon monoxide that is extremely hazardous to health. Do not remove excess water using regular household vacuums.

Turn off the power to your home by disabling the main circuit breaker panel even if the neighborhood power grid is down. The panel is usually installed in the garage, utility room, basement, or outdoors on the side of the home. If you choose to use a generator for temporary electricity supply, do not run it in an enclosed area.

  • Turn off water supply
Locate the main valve and turn it clockwise to turn it off. If you can not complete this task yourself, contact a plumber immediately. Use bottled water or boiled water for washing, drinking, and cooking You may need to use pliers or an adjustable wrench. Turn off the main water supply. The main water valve is usually located in the basement, near the water meter, or outside of the building. Do not use piped water until you are sure it is safe.

  • Turn off gas supply
The main gas valve is usually located on the gas supply pipe, near the meter Check for the odor of natural gas and shut off the gas supply lines.

  • Beware of animals
Contact your local animal control officer for assistance if needed Use a stick to poke through debris before removing it to make sure no animals are inhabiting the debris. Be wary of approaching any animal. Watch out for stray animals, reptiles, and rodents that might have taken shelter in your property after being disturbed by the water.

  • Use protective gear
In many cases of water damage events, water is contaminated with sewage, mud, and other debris, presenting health hazards. Protect yourself during clean up using protective gear such as:
  1. Disposable plastic gloves
  2. Respirator with a particulate filter, N-95 respirator, or half-face respirator with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter
  3. Goggles or protective eyewear
  4. Disposable full body clothing, coveralls, or a lab coat
  5. Head gear
  6. Rubber boots or foot coverings

Be sure to use disinfectants to wash hands, especially before eating.


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