A flood can not only have affect on your house and its safety but you could also lose your irreplaceable personal belongings such as family pictures and heirlooms. Many victims of a flood start dealing with the obvious aftermath from a flood such as structural issues and other visual flood damage but fail to consider the health problems that a flood can cause. Depending on the type of flood the water can be contaminated with sewage and even clean potable water can start to grow mold within 72 hours if not completely dried out from inside the walls, underneath carpet and other areas that aren’t easily accessible. The first thing to do during or after a flood is to call a plumber or a restoration company that can diagnose the cause of the flood, fix the cause of the flood and assess the extent of the damage. A professional can determine how high the water was, the extent of where the water traveled within the walls and the level of saturation with moisture detectors, hygrometers and other specialty equipment. Professionals have truck mounted and portable extraction units in conjunction with hi-tech drying equipment to most effectively remove all the water and moisture from your home. The professional from the plumbing company or the restoration company will then discuss with you the options and determine if it is in your best interest to contact your homeowner’s insurance company to be involved with remediation process and restoring your home back to whole. The following steps will help you and your family deal with the post flood damage most effectively: 1.) The first step is to act immediately to minimize the damage and call the professionals. It is very important to act quick! According to professionals the longer you let the damage sit the bigger the problem grows. The most important thing to do is have the professional stop the cause of the flood and ensure the safety then remove all wet and damp items from your home to prevent mildew and mold growth. It has been proven that exposure to just the growth of mold can cause dizziness, headaches, fatigue, asthma, and other respiratory issues. Being exposed to mold can lead to more serious illnesses like respiratory infections and sometimes permanent breathing conditions. 2.) The second step would be to take pictures of any floodwater in your home and all damage resulting from the flood including perished personal belongings and allow the professionals to start the remediation process. This will be very beneficial if you should need to file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company. Professionals have the best equipment to stop the process of damage to your home and belongings and the most up to date technology and knowledge to restore your belongings. Sometimes homeowners do more harm than good when attempting to salvage their personal belongings. Restoration companies have several years of experience in remediation and the specialty equipment to correctly restore wood flooring, electronics, computers, jewelry, and even delicate family photographs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn victims of a flood that anything that cannot be disinfected, which includes carpeting, rugs, mattresses, books, and many toys should be thrown away. Even drywall and insulation need to be tossed if they’ve come in contact with flood waters that are contaminated with sewage or other harmful contaminates. Hard surfaces can be cleaned with hot soapy water and then followed up with bleach. The CDC also says any clothing or garments worn while cleaning up are contaminated and should be washed thoroughly in hot soapy water. 3.) The third step would be reconciling with the insurance company if applicable, moving all dry salvageable items back into your home and replacing your family’s necessities. Always remember DO NOT risk your family’s health over keeping items that cannot be disinfected such as a child’s favorite toy or attempting to re-mediate your home without the help of a professional. This could cost you not only in the pocket book but also your health! A few tips to protect you, your family and your valuables: – Make sure your current home owner’s insurance policy is set up to cover you in the event of a flood and you have depreciation coverage. Many homeowners opt out of flood insurance believing it won’t happen to them. If your insurance policy doesn’t provide depreciation coverage then everything you lose will only be covered for what it is worth when your policy is established and not for what it will cost you to buy a new one at the time of loss. If your insurance covers depreciation then you will get a check for the depreciated value and once you replace your damaged items provide your insurance company with receipts then they will send you another check for what is called recoverable depreciation. – If you haven’t already scanned all your photographs into your computer and stored to an image hosting website such as Photobucket or saved onto DVDs you may want to. If you are ever a victim of a house flood photographs can get permanently damaged very easily. You will want to immediately separate any wet photographs so that when they dry out they aren’t permanently adhered to each other. Also only handle the photographs by the edges because if you touch the middle of the photograph it might remove the ink and leave you with a blank area on the photograph. Also some ink on photographs can run or smear and the photograph paper can easily tear if wet so handle each photograph with extreme care. Once the photographs have dried out you will want to scan them into your computer and dispose of the originals since the photographs are paper products and could very well contain mildew and contamination. – DO NOT attempt to remedy black mold without the help of a professional. There are many health issues related to black mold and some in which are permanent health issues and can even be deadly. Black mold is not something to second guess and go about the cheap way to remedy since you may not get a second chance at getting rid of.