Floods and natural disasters are an unhappy fact of life that will touch most of our lives at some point, be it second or first-hand. When they happen, it is extremely important that we are aware of the major dangers associated with flooded homes both immediately after and in the weeks following the original damage is done.
The air inside a flooded home can have high levels of natural gas or other flammable gases from leaks. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid lighting any type of open flame inside the house until you have verified that no gas leak existed. Also, turn on any flashlights or other cleanup tools before entering the residence as they have the potential to spark flammable gases already present in the air and do not turn on light switches for the same reason. If you do detect a gas odor once inside, leave immediately and call the gas company.
It is a good idea to check on the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in any water or feeling otherwise unsafe. You have the option of turning the electricity off at the main fuse box or circuit breaker as well. This is the safest option and will reduce the risk of accidental electrocution while inside your dwelling.
With flood damage, there is also the risk of damage to the entire structure or parts of the house’s structure. There can be unseen roof, foundation and chimney cracks. It is worth the expense of having a diagnostic visit from a professional to verify whether or not there was this or any other kind of structural damage caused during the incident.
Sewage pipes may also be damaged during a flood which can lead to water contamination. Toilets must not be flushed until it has been ascertained that the pipes are not broken by a professional. It is best to check with local authorities before using any water for this reason. You may also need to have your well pumped out and the water tested by experts before being able to drink it again.
You will need to disinfect all salvageable items in your home that have come into contact with raw sewage, bacteria or chemical. Many items will often not being salvageable. It is important to get rid of anything that cannot be disinfected and dried quickly because mold can be a serious health threat otherwise.