A flooding event can be devastating to the homeowner. Whether the flood occurs as a result of external factors such as flash floods resulting from heavy rainfall or a broken window allowing rainwater to pour into the home during a strong storm, or from internal factors such as a broken water line or overflowing toilet, the results are the same. Expensive repair bills for repair of the home structure itself and loss of household goods can easily add up to thousands of dollars. Even with insurance, some things simply can’t be replaced, such as family heirlooms or all the pictures and files stored on a home computer. The good news is there are steps that can be taken before a flood to help minimize losses and several of these will be discussed here.
Securing Property in the Home
The most devastating losses during a flood are usually irreplaceable family heirlooms or things like photo albums or important documents. The best way to prevent these items from becoming destroyed or damaged by flood is to properly store items in a way that will reduce the risk of exposure to water in the event of a flood.
Electronics should never be placed directly on the ground, simply raising a computer or expensive television a few inches off the ground can be the difference between a prized possession surviving the flood intact or becoming a total loss. Electrical chords should likewise be kept off the ground whenever possible, as electronics can short out if the chords are submerged in water for too long. This also decreases the risk of electrical fire or electrocution in the event a room or home becomes inundated with water.
Non-electrical possessions such as photo albums, family wedding dresses and other similar keepsakes should be stored in waterproof containers. Large plastics bins are available in most big-box stores and are a great way to protect items from water damage.
Saving furniture is difficult in a flood scenario, however there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. First, always try to place expensive furniture items away from windows. Similarly, whenever practicable try to keep these items away from water sources, . Use small ‘spacers’ to raise furniture off the ground a few inches so that if it does flood, there is a better chance that the items won’t come into direct contact with water in the event a room becomes inundated with water. Before a major storm, heavy plastic covering can protect furniture if a window blows out allowing rain to enter the room.
Important documents should always be kept in a fire and waterproof safe. These items include passports, birth certificates, social security cards, and other similar items. Bossiness documents can be kept in waterproof filing cabinets, a more affordable solution would be the same plastic bins used to photographs. Also consider keeping an electronic back-up off all business related papers.
Electronic data can be protected in two ways. Hard copies of important data can be made and then stored either off-site or in plastic bins. Another option is to use online backup services to help protect your valuable information. There are a number of well-established, trustworthy sites on the internet that will scan and copy your entire hard drive and back it up on their servers to help prevent data loss. Alternately a some sites allow the user to upload data that they want to protect, and store only the data that is uploaded, rather than backing up the entire drive. The second service is usually less expensive, and is a good choice if only looking to save digital photos or a few files.
Decrease the Risk of Flooding Occurring
While not all floods are preventable, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. Regularly inspect waterlines, faucets and toilets for signs of a leak. A small leak can quickly build into a large leak, and any small leak should be fixed immediately. If it is not possible to fix the leak immediately, then the water to the affected area should be turned off and kept off until repairs can be made.
Install and use storm shutters on all windows. If a major storm event is expected and storm shutters are not installed, cover all windows with plywood on the outside and heavy plastic on the inside. Staple the plastic to the wall, and then cover with masking tape or something similar to ensure a tight seal.
Check the condition of roofing on a regular basis, at least once a year. Replace any missing or damaged shingles, or have a roofer do it. Ensure there are no ‘soft spots’ in the roofing, these may indicate a leak has already started and the wood underneath the roofing is starting to rot. Replace any damaged areas as soon as possible, as weakened areas in the roof can quickly collapse and cause catastrophic flooding damage to occur in severe weather.
Many homeowners are shocked to find that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover water damage, particularly flood damage caused by natural disasters. Speak with a qualified insurance specialist to find a quality flood insurance policy. While flood insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense at first, damage from a flood can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. High-end policies will cover all water damage restoration costs, replace lost household goods, and even provide living accommodations for the duration of the repair process.
A flooding event is terrible experience which can be both costly and mentally exhausting. However by taking the steps described here, both mental anguish and property loss can be mitigated. This will make the recovery process go more quickly and smoothly, getting things back to normal in less time and with less heartache.