September 11, 2015
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH)® offers the following cleanup, insurance, and safety tips for families preparing to return to flooded homes.
- Stay tuned to local news organizations for important announcements, bulletins, and instructions.
- You may not have immediate access to your home. Roads could be blocked, power lines could be down, and people may be trapped or in need of assistance.
- Make sure you have current identification. You may have to pass through identification checkpoints before being allowed access to your home/neighborhood.
- Do not attempt to drive through floodwaters. Remember the slogan, Turn Around, Don’t Drown® as there could be unseen dangers such as downed power lines, debris, or washed out roadways.
- Check for building stability before entry – sticking doors at the top may indicate a ceiling at risk of collapse.
- Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.
- Assess stability of plaster and drywall – any bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage that should be removed. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved.
- To prevent warping of wooden doors, remove and disinfect all knobs and hardware, and lay flat and allow to air dry completely.
- Remove wet drywall and insulation well above the high water mark.
- Take extensive photos and video for insurance claims. Only flood insurance typically covers damage from floods.
- Remove damaged items from the home. If you need evidence of damage, save swatches (carpet, curtains, etc.) for your insurance adjuster, and learn more about insurance from the newly-updated insurance guide, If Disaster Strikes Will You Be Covered?
- Consider having licensed, bonded professionals inspect your home for damage and help in repairs.
- Wash and disinfect all surfaces, including cupboard interiors with a solution of 1/2 cup bleach to 2 gallons of water. Remove sliding doors and windows before cleaning and disinfect the sliders and the tracks.
- Clean and disinfect air conditioning, heating, and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores.
- Use fans and allow in sunlight to dry out interior spaces.
- To avoid growth of microorganisms, household items should be dried completely before they are brought back in the house.
- Remove wallpaper and coverings that came into contact with floodwaters. Don’t repaint or repair until drying is complete and humidity levels in the home have dropped.
- The National Archives Websitehas information on how to clean up your family treasures. Although it may be difficult to throw certain items away, especially those with sentimental value, experts recommend that if you can’t clean it, you should dispose of it, especially if it has come into contact with water that may contain sewage.
For more information on protecting your home from flooding, visit www.flash.org, or FEMA at www.ready.gov.
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