We’ve heard all kinds of reasons for basement floods. In the winter, it could be a burst pipe. In the spring and summer, it could be from torrential rains or a swollen river. Whatever the cause, it’s important to call in a professional to help correct the situation appropriately. After making that call, there are a few things you can do.
First, check if the power is on. If it is, it’s likely not safe for you to be in the home, and certainly not in the flooded basement. After all, water is a conductor. A spokesman for the Boston Fire Department told Bankrate.com it’s not even safe to run an extension cord from a neighbor’s home to yours to run the whole household. You could use a power source like that to charge your cell phone or plug in a lamp, but think twice before doing more while standing water is present. So, before doing anything, disconnect the power.
If the power is off, and it’s the middle of winter, please think twice before staying in the home. If you must stay put, do not try to run a generator with power in the house.
Do you know where the water is coming from? Could it be from a sewage backup or something similar? In an instance like that, a licensed restoration company would have its crew don full safety gear, such as hazmat suits, respirators, and boots, before entering the water. There could be a lot of bacteria in the water if it’s a sewage backup, and exposure could make you and others in the home very sick. It’s best to wait for professionals to arrive on scene before trying to assess the damage and find the source.
If you feel the affected area is safe to enter, and the power is off, you can start moving items out of the area like electronics and furniture. Take them to a dry area where a restoration crew can take a closer look to see what may or may not be salvageable based on the amount of damage.
One last thing to note: If you were out of town when the flood happened, and you think the water may have been sitting for several days, there is a chance mold is already growing in the space. In this case, it doesn’t hurt to grab a mask to wear while inside the home to protect yourself against mold and other allergens that may be in the air.
Lastly, be sure you hire a company with experience and a proven track record of cleaning, restoring and disinfecting buildings after a water loss issue. It’s likely the cleanup process will be covered by your homeowners insurance, and a good restoration contractor will be able to work with the insurance company to get the job done for you correctly.