Flooding Damage: Health and Safety
Health and Safety should be your top concern when dealing with basement flooding. Apart from the mess, a flooded basement presents hazards which require special precautions.
- Flooding may affect electrical and gas systems including appliances, creating the possibility of serious electrical shock.
- Flood water could be highly contaminated with disease/bacteria from raw sewage and other pollutants.
- Be aware that basement flooding can leave a range of contaminants including mould, harmful stuff in the sewer, etc. Resulting moulds and mildew can trigger problems for asthmatics so be careful, and take the proper safety precautions if you are doing your own cleanup.
Did You Know?
If you are experiencing basement flooding, the City provides free site visits and advice. A staff member usually can visit your home the same day. (see top right corner of screen for phone numbers)
Tips to Minimize Flood Damage
Here are some tips to minimize the damage to your basement when flooding has occurred:
- If water is backing up from your PDC, DO NOT flush the toilet, run the washing machine, the dishwasher or turn on any taps - this will only create further flooding. You should call a plumber immediately.
- Report the flooding to the City of London at 519-661-4570 (or after hours at 519-661-4965). This is important. Reporting a flooded basement allows us to track the immediate source of the problem in your neighbourhood and also to plan ahead for future investigations into the sanitary and/or storm systems.
- City staff will inspect the problem, assess the flooding damage and determine its source. The City will recommend what you should do to prevent another basement flood in the future.
- If you have insurance coverage for sewer backups, you may want to call your insurance company as soon as possible and report any property damage caused by the flooding. Take photographs of the damage and keep receipts for payments for emergency repair work and clean-up work done to prevent or reduce further damage.
The Clean Up
Cleaning up is a messy and unpleasant job. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself while getting rid of the mess:
- Wear protective clothing - overalls, gloves, protective eyeglasses, rubber boots and a face mask.
- Stay clear of electrical equipment. Do not attempt to change any fuses if you are standing in water or on damp ground.
- If you can, shut off the electrical power.
- If weather permits, open basement windows to allow fresh air in. In addition to speeding the drying process, this helps to prevent odours.
- Remove items of value that are in, or near, the source of water.
- Fans and/or dehumidifiers can reduce dampness and speed drying.
- Minor debris can be left out for regular garbage pick-up.
- Scrub affected furniture with antibacterial soap and water and place outside to dry (weather permitting), or steam clean.
- Clean and deodorize carpets or have them professionally cleaned.
- Disinfect the walls and the floor using a chlorine bleach and water solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Wait for the area to dry completely before re-using it.
- Throw out canned goods and other foods that may have been affected by flood waters. If your freezer has lost power, move frozen food to a neighbour's freezer, or throw it out if you cannot keep it frozen.
- If the source of the problem is a leaking water meter turn off the valve in front of the meter. Place rags or pails beneath the meter to catch the drips or if the valve is spraying water, wrap towels around the leaking valve.
If water is widespread and there is serious damage, it is suggested that you:
- Make a written list of all property that is damaged and take pictures - you may find this Inventory Sheet helpful.
- Note which property is permanently damaged (i.e. won't be usable after being properly dried).
- Take photos to document the water spread and the wet property.
- Advise your insurance agent or broker promptly.
*Photos courtesy of Winmar.