Recent Water Damage Posts
Preparing for Unexpected Rain in South Florida
Water damage like flooding and leaks can be a major headache if not handled right away by a professional service.
February typically marks some of the most beautiful weather that South Florida sees all year round. And while we have been lucky to have pleasant days and cool nights, the last few weeks have also brought some unexpected rains. Rainy season in Florida typically runs from May through October, but any true Florida resident will attest to the fact that rains can come and go at any time. As a homeowner, it is important to be aware of quickly the weather can change from beautiful and sunny to dark and stormy.
Keep the following tips in mind to prepare your Florida home for unexpected rain over the next few months:
- Get your roof inspected to ensure there are no concerning areas
- Be sure that all windows and doors are secured and properly closed before leaving the house
- Remove any outdoor equipment that could be susceptible to rusting in rain
- Keep your gutters clear of any debris
- Inspect the interior of your home for any signs of leaks (focus on the walls and ceilings)
- Apply waterproof sealer to any areas of your outdoor patio that may need some extra protection
- Keep your garage door closed
- Check in with the weather channel here and there to be aware of any impending storms
Water damage like flooding and leaks can be a major headache if not handled right away by a professional service. At SERVPRO, we are dedicated to providing 24-hour emergency service for all types of water damage in your home. Contact our water restoration and damage repair technicians today to learn more!
Flood Safety Tips for Florida Residents
If your home has suffered any water damage due to flooding, be sure to contact the professionals at SERVPRO right away!
South Florida homeowners are no stranger to heavy rains and flooding areas. While the drainage systems throughout the Sunshine State have improved significantly over the years, there are still a sizable number of regions prone to flooding. From coastal storms to heavy rains and from overflows of canals and lakes to storm surges, it is important to be aware of the dangers linked to flooding and the critical safety measures to take in the event of a flood. While it may surprise some, floods are actually the most common type of natural disaster in the United States.
Flash floods can occur with little to no warning and some floods develop much more slowly. Regardless of the timing, reacting to a flood quickly and proactively is key. Keep in mind the following flood safety tips:
- Never attempt to drive, walk, or swim through flood water
- If an area is under flood warning, seek shelter immediately
- Avoid bridges that are over fast-moving water
- Gather all of your emergency supplies during a flood watch or flood warning
- Remain up-to-date on weather via the radio or local news station
- Take your outdoor furniture and other possession inside or securely tie them down
- If you are ordered to evacuate, turn off all utilities and close your gas valve
- When approaching a flooded area, turn around
The above may seem like simple or obvious tips, but far too many people ignore them and end up in trouble. It can be tempting to walk or drive through flood waters, but just six inches of moving water can knock down a person on foot and just a foot of moving water can sweep away a car. This rainy season, be sure to keep these flood safety tips in mind for your and your family’s safety. If your home has suffered any water damage due to flooding, be sure to contact the professionals at SERVPRO right away!
How To Spot Water Damage
At SERVPRO, we are dedicated to unmatched customer service, high-quality work, and making it “Like it never even happened.”
Water damage may seem like something that would be obvious to detect. Things like buckled wood and discolored ceilings are dead giveaways, however, some of the most common signs of water damage are far more difficult to spot. Most of the time, water damage is actually located underneath your home’s floor boards, behind your home’s walls, or even somewhere on the outside of your house. Residential water damage and commercial water damage alike can be extremely costly for the property owner, especially when not identified early on. As such, it is extremely important to be aware of some of the most common water damage warnings.
A homeowner has a lot of things to think about and scanning the house for water damage is probably low on the to-do list. Nevertheless, being aware of some of the more typical indicators can save you and your family a ton of money in the long-run. Keep the following list in mind for how to spot water damage:
- Foul odors are often an indication of residual water and mold growth
- Stains present on ceilings and walls
- Mold growth
- Painting peeling
- Discoloration of the ceiling
- Bubbling or cracking wallpaper or paint
- Changes in floor texture such as buckling, warping, expanding, or sinking
- Leaking or pooling water behind appliances
- Issues in the attic and/or roof like mold or staining
- Exterior home damage near gutters
Being knowledgeable about the potential signs of water damage is the first step in mitigating the financial cost and overall damage caused. If you have spotted any of the above indicators throughout your home, it is imperative to contact a professional water damage team right away. At SERVPRO, we are dedicated to unmatched customer service, high-quality work, and making it “Like it never even happened.” Call us today to learn more!
Immediate response is key
Water emergencies don’t wait for regular business hours and neither do we. SERVPRO of Hollywood/ Hallandale/ Aventura provides emergency cleaning and restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including holidays.
In many cleaning and restoration situations, immediate action is needed. An immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs:
- Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
- Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
- Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
- Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.
Hours 1 - 24:
- Drywall begins to swell and break down.
- Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
- Furniture begins to swell and crack.
- Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
- A musty odor appears.
48 Hours to 1 Week:
- Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
- Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
- Metal begins to rust and corrode.
- Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
- Paint begins to blister.
- Wood flooring swells and warps.
- Serious biohazard contamination is possible.
More Than 1 Week:
- Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
- Structural safety, mold growth, and bio-hazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.
The biggest mistake made by unit owners during water damages is to assume that if there is no visible water then there are no affected materials. Yet, water travels through porous materials in unbelievable ways. On the initial day of the water loss, walls may read dry. But the next day the walls can show that they are wet due to the water traveling its way down through the drywall. That is why it is important to let SERVPRO technicians perform proper inspections each day that they return to the unit to monitor the equipment already in place. A thorough inspection is done with the use of infrared cameras that detect humidity and moisture meters that penetrate the surface of materials that may possibly be affected.
Rain is necessary to help flowers and trees bloom, and that’s great! But sometimes all that water can cause damage to your home or business.
Yet there are ways to prepare.
- Take a look at rain gutters. Clogged gutters will cause rainwater to backup, damaging your roof and walls.
- Do a roof inspection. Are any shingles loose or damaged? Replace any that could be an issue to protect attic or work space from water damage.
- Check interior walls and ceilings for signs of water damage; this could be an indication of roof leaks.
- Trim any trees and bushes next to your business. Be sure to cut back branches that could break off, damaging property.
- Ensure that all doors and windows are secure, and that weatherstripping is in good condition.
- Make sure the city drains near your business are clear of debris and earth. Call the Public Works Department if you think there may be an issue.
Preparedness in the event of any kind of extreme weather is always a good idea, to protect your business and property from loss and damage. Taking the time to assess your situation and thinking ahead about what may come is a good way to keep your investment secure.
Until help arrives...
Water damages occur spontaneously which is why they quickly cause structural damages. Yet there are numerous ways to minimize the damages until SERVPRO arrives on site:
- Shut off the main water line from your home or business if the cause of loss is a burst pipe.
- In case of a large flood, disconnect any appliances that are affected to prevent electrical issues.
- Begin removing standing water. The longer the water sits, the more damage it will cause.
- Place aluminum or wood blocks between furniture and carpet flooring to prevent staining.
Once SERVPRO crews are on site, the damages will be assessed, any standing water will be extracted, the necessary materials will be removed and equipment will be set to facilitate the drying process. Our crews will leave the job site as "if it never even happened."
Appliances Most Likely to Leak
If you believe you may have a leaking appliance in your home or commercial property, contact our team of highly trained water damage specialists now.
Leaky appliances are one of the most common causes in water damage for both homes and commercial spaces. Unfortunately, many people do not recognize that a leak is occurring before the damage has been done. What often starts as a small, unnoticeable leaks turns into a major problem with serious damage. Things like mold growth, wood rot, and damage to carpets, flooring, and drywall typically follow water damage. On top of that, structural damage might be caused which can be extremely costly for a homeowner or commercial property owner. As such, being aware of the appliances most likely to leak is essential to preventing damage from happening in the first place. When attentive to appliances that are vulnerable to leaks, you are putting yourself in a position to recognize an issue immediately and thus minimize the water damage.
Household appliances each pose a unique threat when it comes to possible leaking and water damage. Far too often a homeowner fails to identify when an appliance is not functioning at full capacity. In this case, the problem is only clear when there is a puddle on the floor in the laundry room or in the kitchen. It is important to be aware of the appliances most likely to leak, they are as follows:
- Washing Machine
- Water Heater
- Kitchen Sink Drain Line
- Heating and Cooling Equipment
Most Florida homes have all of the above appliances. The most common causes of leaks are things like broken seals, damaged pipe joints, clogged lines, loose water connectors, corrosion, high water pressure, quick changes in temperature, and tree roots interfering with water lines. If you believe you may have a leaking appliance in your home or commercial property, it is important to contact our team of highly trained water damage specialists right away. Call us today if you have any type of flood damage or water damage and our SERVPRO experts will respond immediately.
Most Common Causes of Water Damage in Your Home
At SERVPRO, our water damage specialists have the experience, expertise, and equipment to restore your property quickly and efficiently.
Water damage in a residential property is often caused by things like water leaking or flooding that goes unnoticed for a long period of time. Damage of all kinds can wreak havoc on your property when excess water starts to pool in an area of the home. Unfortunately, most homeowners are unaware of the signs and warnings of water damage and therefore leave the issue unresolved, eventually causing further damage. Water damage restoration is the process of removing the water, drying and dehumidifying, clean and sanitizing, and then restoring the area to its original state. From minor repairs to carpet replacements, identifying water damage early is the key to minimizing potential damage to your home.
The ability to recognize signs of water damage is the first step in keeping your property in top condition. As such, it is important to understand the most common causes of water damage in your home. They are as follows:
- Leaking pipes, bursting pipes, or broken hoses
- Malfunctioning air conditioners or other HVAC issues
- Broken dishwashers, washing machines, or other household appliances
- Sewer backup, clogged drains, or general plumbing problems
- Water buildup in areas like attics or crawl spaces
- Natural disasters like hurricanes or rainstorms that cause flooding
- Running toilets
- Bathtub overflows
- Malfunctioning fire sprinkler system
No matter what the water damage cause may be, addressing the problem immediately is imperative to reducing damage and restoring the area back to optimal condition. At SERVPRO, our water damage specialists have the experience, expertise, and equipment to restore your property quickly and efficiently. From floods to leaking pipes, our water removal and cleanup process will make your home look “Like it never it happened”. Contact our office as soon as possible to learn more about how our Disaster Recovery Team can help you and your home today!
How to spot water damage
In general, a house is one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime. In order to protect that investment, you should vigilantly look out for household problems and address them before they worsen.
One such dreaded homeowner issue is water damage. If left unattended, residential water damage can detrimentally impact the structure or spawn other complications, including mold that poses a health risk to inhabitants. Here are several methods for detecting water damage within your house.
1. Check the Floors
No matter what kind of flooring you have, it will manifest signs of water damage. For tile and wood, look for cracked, buckling or warped flooring. When it comes to carpet, be wary of damp spots, gradual rises, soft spots or the smell of mold and dampness.
2. Look for Stains
Water stains on the floor around the bathtub, toilet or sink, as well as stains on ceilings and walls, are some of the most obvious signs of water damage. Unusual stains could indicate there is a leaky pipe or drain inside the wall. Cracks in the drywall or areas that appear swollen and are soft to touch also may signify trouble. Peeling paint is another sign of loose water within wall spaces. As the drywall gets saturated, paint can lose adhesion.
3. Inspect Outside
Observe the exterior of your house. What you want to look for are pools of standing water that can indicate poor drainage in the yard, gutter spouts that aren’t transporting water far enough from the house or leaky rain gutters. Any of those issues could threaten the foundation of your house. Additionally, common signs of water damage on the roof may include pools of water; cracked, curled or missing shingles; or broken flashing.
4. Watch for Rust and Mold
Inspect your water heater and check for rust on the tank or damp spots on the floor. A rusted tank could indicate a slow leak. Additionally, corrosion around pipe connections could be caused by water seepage. Visual signs of active mold growth mean moisture is contacting microscopic mold spores, often in the nooks and crannies of your home. Finally, don’t rely solely on sight. When water stagnates, mold and bacteria can grow, producing a musty, unpleasant smell.
How to Locate Leaks with a Moisture Meter
When it comes to leaks in a structure, whether that structure is an office or a home, timeliness is of the utmost importance in minimizing the cost of a leak. Leaks not only add to the cost of a utility bill, the damage caused by water intrusion into the structure can require thousands of dollars of remediation and repair.
For many common leaks, finding and fixing the source of the problem is relatively straightforward. For example, a leaky faucet or shower head might require the tightening or replacement of a seal, and the source of the leak is in plain sight. However, not all leaks occur in simple, easy to reach or see spots. Sometimes, water intrusion occurs in places where you cannot immediately see it, such as behind a wall or in the ceiling, where the visible signs of a leak might not appear right away.
Moisture meters are a very helpful tool for detecting the presence of moisture in building materials, and for helping to pinpoint the source of that moisture intrusion, even when the origin point may be out of sight.
“How so,” you ask?
Tracing Leaks in Dry Plaster, Brick, and Concrete
Masonry materials such as dry plaster, brick, and concrete typically have very little moisture in them. Sometimes, when these materials are tested with a moisture meter in a reference scale mode, there is so little moisture that the meter cannot detect it.
Thankfully, if you find moisture in one of these materials, there’s a trick you can use to pinpoint the origin point of a leak in masonry materials. To pull it off, you’ll need the following:
A nail, one made of a ductile metal.
A pin-type moisture meter such as the BD 2100.
To start the process, drive the nail into the area of the masonry that you know to be wet. Then, attach the insulated wire to the nail and one of the meter’s contact pins.
Once the wire is attached to one of the contact pins, apply the other pin to different parts of the wall where you suspect the leak may be originating from. If the meter gives a “wet” response, the wall is wet between the two contact points. If the meter gives a “dry” response, the material is not in the path of a leak.
Repeat the test until you’ve identified the limit of the “wet” response area.
This trick should help you pinpoint the origin point of a leak behind a masonry wall.
Testing Insulation for Moisture
Wet insulation loses its ability to keep a building's temperature stable, and can become a mold colony if given enough time.When loosely-packed insulation gets wet, the moisture not only ruins the value of the insulation as a means to keep the temperature of a building stable, that insulation becomes a potential host for mold. Over time, the moisture trapped in insulation will begin to affect the structures that the insulation is in contact with, causing damage.
To test insulation, you will want to use a moisture meter with extended-length probes such as Delmhorst’s 21-E electrode with #608 pins, which are insulated pins that penetrate to 3 1/4” deep (6” penetration type also available). Because only the tips of these pins are uninsulated, you’ll be able to identify just how deep into the insulation the moisture pocket goes.
While you won’t have to tear down the whole wall to get at the insulation to start testing, you will need to drill two holes that are 3/16” in diameter, set one inch apart in your siding or drywall. Once the holes have been drilled, push the pins into the holes and start taking readings at different depths using the reference scale setting of your meter. The reference scale setting will give you a qualitative reading of whether or not moisture is present in the material being tested.
When you’re finished taking readings, seal the holes that were drilled with an appropriate filler.
Depending on the distribution of moisture in the insulation, you may be able to establish whether the moisture is the result of a leak or if it is caused by condensation.
In side walls and roof insulation, moisture intrusion is generally the result of leaks in the roof or other structural defects in the side walls that allow water (such as from melting snow & ice) to penetrate the structure. During cold weather, water vapor in the air will condense, with some remaining trapped in the insulation.
Generally speaking, when moisture intrusion comes from a pipe leak in the wall, you’ll see much higher concentrations of moisture below the pipe, with little moisture being present in material above the pipe.
By using moisture meters to help you pinpoint the location of a leak in your structure, you can save time and money by letting your plumber or restoration professional know where the leak is coming from. The less time they have to spend looking for a leak, the lower your cost for labor will be.
FLOOD SAFETY ADVICE
The most important thing to consider when entering a flood damaged property is safety. There can and will be hazards all around, from problems with electrical items and natural gas appliances to contaminated water, mold and much, much more. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of precautions, but a list of things you might not think about. Please use common sense before entering the property. If it doesn’t appear safe, DO NOT ENTER. Call a professional to make sure.
Before you turn anything on or plug in an appliance, have an electrician check the house wiring and appliances to make sure it is safe to use.
If any of the appliances have been under water, have them dried out and reconditioned by a qualified service repairman. Do not use any electrical appliance that has not been checked out or reconditioned because it poses an electrical shock hazard and could overheat the appliance and cause a fire.
If you use any electrical equipment for cleanup, i.e. wet-dry vacuum, power tools etc. be sure they are plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). Do not allow power cords to be submerged or wet. Never remove or bypass the ground pin on a three-pronged plug in order to insert it into a non-grounded outlet. Electrical circuit breakers and fuses that have been submerged need to be discarded and replaced with new.
Have all gas appliances (LP and natural gas) inspected and serviced before using. This includes gas furnaces, water heaters, cook stoves etc. If they were underwater have the gas controls replaced. Water and silt can damage gas controls and cause them to not operate properly. If you smell gas or hear it escaping, turn off the main line valve, open windows, and leave the area. Call the gas company and report the problem. Never use any electrical appliance, turn lights on or off, light a match, or us the telephone. These all may produce sparks.
Smoke detectors need to be tested before and after any work is done in the house. Smoke detectors can save your life in case of fire or smoke.
Many deaths have occurred during cleanup work while burning charcoal for cooking and staying warm. Never burn charcoal appliances inside homes, mobile homes, garages, cars, trucks, tents, or campers. Charcoal gives off carbon monoxide when burned. Carbon monoxide is odorless and can kill you.
Remember to keep household chemicals and medicines locked up or stored out of children’s reach.
Problems with Stormwater Pollution
Stormwater runoff is generated from rain and snowmelt events that flow over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, and does not soak into the ground. The runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. To protect these resources, communities, construction companies, industries, and others, use stormwater controls, known as best management practices (BMPs). These BMPs filter out pollutants and/or prevent pollution by controlling it at its source.
The NPDES stormwater program regulates some stormwater discharges from three potential sources: municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities. Operators of these sources might be required to obtain an NPDES permit before they can discharge stormwater. This permitting mechanism is designed to prevent stormwater runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local surface waters.
Authorization Status for EPA's Stormwater Construction and Industrial Programs – Most states are authorized to implement the stormwater NPDES permitting program. EPA remains the permitting authority in a few states, territories, and on most land in Indian Country.
Population growth and the development of urban/urbanized areas are major contributors to the amount of pollutants in the runoff as well as the volume and rate of runoff from impervious surfaces. Together, they can cause changes in hydrology and water quality that result in habitat modification and loss, increased flooding, decreased aquatic biological diversity, and increased sedimentation and erosion. The benefits of effective stormwater runoff management can include:
protection of wetlands and aquatic ecosystems,
improved quality of receiving waterbodies,
conservation of water resources,
protection of public health, and
Traditional stormwater management approaches that rely on peak flow storage have generally not targeted pollutant reduction and can exacerbate problems associated with changes in hydrology and hydraulics.
The big benefit of plain water.
“Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink.” Unlike Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, who was surrounded by undrinkable salt water, most Americans have an unlimited supply of clean water to quench our thirsts.
Yet many of us turn a blind eye to it and instead reach for other beverages throughout the day, like sodas, juices, coffee, and tea, despite warnings from health experts over recent years about the added calories in sweetened beverages and the health benefits of plain water.
Now a recent study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics provides even more evidence that we should choose water over other drinks if we want to control our weight. For the study, researchers from the University of Illinois looked at data on the eating (and drinking) habits of 18,311 adults as recorded in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2012.
Survey participants were asked to recall their dietary intake over two separate days. They reported their consumption of plain water (which included tap water, water from fountains and water coolers, and bottled water) as well as their consumption of other beverages like soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters. Participants were also questioned about their intake of “energy-dense, nutrient-poor” foods, like cookies, ice cream, chips, and pastries.
On average, participants drank 4.2 cups of plain water a day and took in 2,157 calories. About 125 of those calories came from sweetened beverages, and about 432 calories came from energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods.
The researchers found that the participants who drank the most plain water in their daily diet consumed fewer total calories, drank fewer sweetened beverages, and took in less total fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol. In fact, they discovered that increasing plain water consumption by one to three cups a day could decrease calorie intake by 68 to 205 calories a day. That could add up to a lot fewer calories over time — and result in significant weight loss.
These results support prior research on this topic, which has shown that drinking water before meals and that substituting water for sweetened beverages can cut down on calorie intake and improve weight control. That means people interested in losing weight and improving their overall health could benefit from incorporating more plain water into their daily diet.
So next time you’re thirsty, instead of ignoring your kitchen sink at home or the bubbler at work, take a moment to savor the one drink that’s free, refreshing, and actually good for us: plain old water.
What to do before during and after.
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or widespread, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.
Not all floods are alike. Some develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path.
Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Every state is at risk from this hazard.
BEFORE A FLOOD
Avoid building in a flood-prone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent water from backing up into the drains of your home.
Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, beams, floodwalls) to stop water from entering the homes in your area.
Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
DURING A FLOOD
If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
Listen to the radio or television for information.
Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of that in your area, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
Do not drive into flooded areas. If flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
AFTER A FLOOD
The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:
Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
Avoid flood waters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
Avoid moving water.
Be aware of areas where flood waters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by flood waters.
Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
Floods and flash floods occur within all 50 states and can be extremely dangerous. They are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters next to fire, so knowledge and preparation is extremely important and will help keep losses to a minimum.
7 things you should do following a flood.
Flooding can be a scary, dangerous disaster, and if not dealt with swiftly and properly after the fact, you could be in for even more lingering effects. It is recommended to bring your home back into good repair as soon as you can, so as to protect your health (such as from mold) as well as preventing further damage.
But how do you do that? Great question. Let’s dive in (pun intended) and learn more about what you should do following a flood. Floodsmart.gov has many great suggestions, some of which we’ll be looking at in this article.
While you will probably want to share your experience on social media, the pictures you take of the damages can - and should - be used by your insurance company when processing your claims. So before you start cleaning out and clearing up, make sure you photograph the mess your home is in, or else risk losing out on some coverage.
Floodsmart.gov recommends boiling all water for drinking and cooking until local authorities deem your water supply is safe. Because flood water can bring in a host of contaminates (including sewage, muck, and other things you don’t want in your system), you’ll want to make sure you have a way to treat your water before drinking it. Otherwise, be prepared to get a lot of bottled water from the store.
Since flood water can be super nasty, it’s best to wear rubber boots to keep the water away from your skin. Likewise, wear gloves and other protective clothing while working to clear your house of leftover water and debris.
Keep Power Off
If you’re wading around in your flooded home, the last thing you want is to be zapped by a live current. Turn your power off and you’ll be just fine.
Remove Wet Contents Immediately
Mold grows quickly
, so make sure you get rid of all your wet belongings to avoid as much as possible. Washing walls and floor will also help keep mold out. Unfortunately, in order to clean floors, you might have to tear it out and replace it. But that’s better than leaving a flooded floor inside and having mold grow underneath it, which will cause health problems later on.
File an Insurance Claim
This goes without saying, but you need to have a flood insurance policy before you can actually file a claim. And remember, that policy needs to be purchased at least 30 days before a flood, or else the claim is void.
Unless you’re happy with your new built-in swimming pool, it’s time to remove the water from your home. Buckets are one way to bail out your home, but a more effective way is to use a sump pump. You can find these at most home supply stores. A wet vac is also necessary to dry up that water, which will also help reduce mold growth.
Avoid Flooded Water
Lastly, avoid flood water in streets, yards, or anywhere else. Dangerous debris can harm you. If you get cut while standing in that water the dirty, deadly contaminants and organisms can creep in to your wound and infect it, compromising your health. Flood waters may also continue to have a strong current, and even shallow water can sweep you off your feet. So be very careful around flood waters.
Floods are the most common disaster in the United States and can be very dangerous and devastating. Make sure you know what to do following a flood before it happens, so when it does come you can go right to work.
Do new rules make Florida water safer or more toxic?
The agency charged with protecting it says it's very safe, especially with the approval this week of a new rule that imposes limits on 39 additional toxic substances and updates allowed limits on 43 other chemicals dumped into Florida's rivers, streams and coastal waters.
"Each and every criterion protects Floridians, according to both EPA and the World Health Organization," the Department of Environmental Protection said last week after the governor's Environmental Regulation Commission approved the new water quality rule on a narrow 3-2 vote.
But environmentalists are so convinced that Florida's water will be further harmed, they are ready to go to war.
They say the new rules allow for higher levels of carcinogens and chemicals that can disrupt natural hormones to be discharged into Florida waters. They claim that weak enforcement by the Department of Environmental Protection already fails to shield Florida's drinking water from health-harming contaminants.
"That policy now says that more Floridians are expendable to cancer and other serious health diseases in order for industries to be more profitable," said Linda Young, executive director of the Florida Clean Water Network, which tried and failed to get the commission to reject the DEP's proposed rule.
The rule updates the state's water quality standards for the first time since 1992 by allowing for 23 toxics, including 18 carcinogens, to be discharged from industrial polluters at higher levels. The chemicals are among those released by oil and gas drilling companies, dry cleaners, pulp and paper producers, electricity plants, wastewater treatment plants and agriculture.
Under the new rules, at least 10 chemicals will now be allowed to be discharged into drinking water sources in amounts that exceed current drinking water standards.
"That means, if the new criteria goes into effect, then those waters could have higher levels of those chemicals than it is legal to send to homes for drinking," Young said. "So the utilities would have to get those chemicals out before putting it in our tap water.''
The Clean Water Network and numerous other environmental groups are asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject the rule and order the state to revise it.
Florida regulators test the water bodies once every five years. They allow industries to release toxics into rivers and aquifers daily based on permits. The industries report to the DEP on how well they meet the discharge goals, and the agency orders corrective action if it believes a company has exceeded the limits.
If the EPA approves the new rules, chemicals such as benzene, beryllium, trichloroethane, dichloroeylene and at least six other toxic substances will be allowed at levels higher than what the state considers safe for drinking water, agency records show.
If there are more toxics in Florida's drinking water sources, utility companies must clean the water before piping it into homes, said Dee Ann Miller, a DEP spokesperson.
Take benzene, for example. The chemical is used as a solvent and degreaser of metals and is often found in oil and gas drilling operations, in gasoline and has been found to get into groundwater from leaking underground petroleum tanks.
The federal government uses two rules to regulate benzene and dozens of other hazardous chemicals in water. One is the Safe Drinking Water Act and the other is the Clean Water Act. EPA's recommended standard for benzene in tap water is 0, but the maximum level it will allow is 0.005 micrograms per liter.
Florida has set its benzene standard for drinking water higher than zero but lower than the maximum allowed by EPA. The DEP has set the safe standard at 0.001 parts per million, or 0.001 micrograms per liter.
That means that water coming out of your tap must have no more than 0.001 micrograms of benzene per liter "to reduce the risk of cancer or other adverse health effects," according to the DEP.
Under federal Clean Water Act standards, benzene and other chemicals are allowed at higher levels — ranging from a low of 0.58 micrograms per liter to 21 micrograms per liter, said Miller.
The current law allows for 1.18 micrograms of benzene per liter in drinking water sources. The new rules would double that level to 2 micrograms per liter, forcing water companies to clean it even more than they currently do.
Bart Bibler, a former water regulator at the DEP and former bureau chief of the water program at the Department of Health, warns that while the new regulations assume that water utilities will remove the higher levels of chemicals from Florida waters, there is nothing that protects the 4 million Floridians who rely on private water wells.
"These wells aren't tested; they're essentially unregulated," Bibler said. "Nobody is notifying them to be on alert that the chemical compounds are increasing."
How to prepare for a flood
This flood was caused by a storm.
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere. How to Prepare for a Flood explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger.
Flooding is an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop.
Flooding can occur during any season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. Coastal areas are at greater risk for flooding during hurricane season (i.e., June to November), while the Midwest is more at risk in the spring and during heavy summer rains. Ice jams occur in the spring in the Northeast and Northwest. Even the deserts of the Southwest are at risk during the late summer monsoon season.
Flooding can happen in any U.S. state or territory. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water, such as a river, stream, or culvert; along a coast; or downstream from a dam or levee.
Flooding can occur in several ways, including the following.
- Rivers and lakes cannot contain excessive rain or snowmelt.
- Excessive rain or snowmelt cannot be fully absorbed into the ground.
- Waterways are blocked with debris or ice and overflow.
- Water containment systems break, such as levees, dams, or water or sewer systems.
- Strong winds from tropical storms or hurricanes cause a storm surge by pushing seawater onto land.
The speed and duration of flooding can vary significantly.
- Flooding can occur slowly as rain continues to fall for many days. This type of flooding, sometimes called a slow-onset flood, can take a week to develop and can last for months before floodwaters recede.
- Rapid-onset floods occur more quickly, typically developing within hours or days. These types of floods usually occur in smaller watersheds experiencing heavy rainfall, particularly in mountainous and urban areas, and the water usually recedes within a few days.
- Some rapid-onset floods known as flash floods occur very quickly with little or no warning, such as during periods of extremely heavy rain or when levees, dams, ice jams, or water systems break. Densely populated areas are at a high risk for flash floods. In urban areas, flash floods can fill underpasses, viaducts, parking structures, low roads, and basements.
- The strong winds of a tropical cyclone or hurricane can push large amounts of seawater up onto the land, causing a storm surge. A storm surge combines with the ocean’s tide to produce a storm-tide surge. Storm-tide surges have been registered as high as almost 35 feet above normal sea level and can cause significant flooding across a large area. This generally occurs over a short period, typically 4 to 8 hours, but in some areas, it can take much longer for the water to recede to its pre-storm level.
The physical destruction caused by flooding depends on the speed and level of the water, the duration of the flood, terrain and soil conditions, and the built environment (e.g., buildings, roads, and bridges).
- Flooding can cause fatalities and serious injuries for people who are trapped or swept away by wading in, driving through, or boating across floodwaters.
- Transportation routes, power, water, gas, and other services may be disrupted.
- Commercial supplies and government support systems may be temporarily unavailable.
- Drinking water supplies and wells may become polluted.
- Floodwaters can cause erosion, which can damage roads, bridge structures, levees, and buildings with weak foundations, causing their collapse without warning. The floodwaters may carry the worn-away mud, rocks, and other sediment.
- Landslides and mudslides can occur.
- Even a few inches of floodwater in a home can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
America's PrepareAthon! www.ready.gov/prepare