What should you do when your house floods?

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A flood in the house can be devastating, and it's easy to panic when the water starts filling up. What do you do? Get to know the right steps in dealing with a flood and how to clean up. What about mold remediation, and why is it part of flood clean-up? What about the electricity?

Plan Ahead

This only applies if you're dealing with a weather system (like heavy rains or a hurricane) and you have some level of warning beforehand. Move as many belongings as you can out of the lower parts of your house, either to the upper floors or out of the house completely to an area that isn't expected to flood.

Sandbags can help keep a low level of water from getting into the doors and any basement or even first floor windows. If you have enough of them, you can circle the house entirely.

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Turn Off the Power

When water starts to flood in, you should immediately shut off the power. Needless to say, water and electricity do not mix and it is a serious hazard during a flood. Depending on the situation, either flip the breakers to the affected area or simply shut off the power at the main junction.

And of course, turn off the water if your flood is due to an internal source (burst pipe or broken plumbing fixture).

Start Pumping

Even if water is still coming in, having a pump running to empty out the flooded space can keep damage to a minimum. This may or not work for you if there is no power, though a generator and sturdy extension cord may do the trick. If nothing else, even a few people bailing with buckets can help.

Start Drying

Once the water has stopped coming in, and you've pumped out as much as you can, you have to get things dried out as quickly as possible. Mold and mildew is a huge problem with flooded space, because too much stays damp for too long. Set up as many fans as you can and open up windows to ventilate your wet rooms. Dehumidifiers are also very helpful, as long as you can keep them drained and empty (they'll fill up much faster than usual in a wet environment).

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Time to Clean

Mud, debris and other contamination will come in with outside flood waters and must be cleaned up. For someone who hasn't had to deal with floodwater before, this can be a bit of a surprise when you see just how much filth it can bring in.

Not only do you have to scrub away the obvious dirt and mud, take care to disinfect more thoroughly to prevent future mold. Flood water can contain a large amount of garbage and sewage, and this contamination will lead to a big mold risk if there is remaining dampness in the walls or floors. A bleach solution can help, or you can use industrial cleaning solutions. Keep an eye on the flooded areas for weeks if not months to make sure you don't get a mold bloom.