Home Improvement

7 Tips for Restoring Your Belongings After an Emergency

Whether it’s caused by a natural disaster or faulty plumbing, if your home is flooded you’ll have to act fast. Mold can grow after 24 hours and waterlogged possessions must dry out. Here are tips for restoring your belongings after an emergency and how to prevent valuables from being water damaged.

Tips for Restoring Your Belongings After an Emergency

Depending on the level of damage, cleaning up after a flood may not be a DIY job. Water can contain dangerous pathogens. Wet floors can be slippery and standing water can hide electrical currents. Here are recommendations on restoring your belongings from SERVPRO, one of the nation’s leading repair and restoration companies. 

1.Call for help

If possible, shut off the water source. Call your insurance agent, a water damage restoration company and FEMA if your home is in a declared disaster area. If it is safe to enter the house, here are a few things to do while waiting for the restoration expert. 

2.Turn off the power

If you can safely approach the electrical panel, turn off the circuit breakers to the wet areas of the house.

3.Remove excess water

Blot or mop up excess water. Water from rain, leaky pipes or appliances is relatively clean. You can safely clean it wearing a face mask and protective clothing. But water from sewage or flooded rivers has contaminants and should be handled by professionals.

4.Dry upholstered furniture

Prop up wet cushions to dry. Place wood blocks or aluminum foil between furniture legs and wet carpeting.

5.Move valuables

Relocate valuables such as paintings, art, computers or documents to a dry place.

6.Exercise caution

To avoid electrical shock, don’t enter areas where electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Avoid using electric or electronic items that came in contact with water. This includes light fixtures, appliances or televisions.

7.Watch for wet ceilings

Don’t turn on ceiling lights if the ceiling is wet. If the ceiling is sagging from retained water, it could collapse. Don’t enter the room.

What to Expect in the Restoration Process

It may surprise you how quickly the restoration process moves once you engage with a restoration team. They realize that fast action is critical to dry and dehumidify your home and save your belongings. Here is the process SERVPRO uses for water damage restoration.

    • Emergency contact. Call centers are open 24/7/365. A specialist asks questions to assess your emergency and deploy an inspection team.
    • Inspection and assessment. Professionals inspect your home and report to you on the severity of the water damage, safety hazards and what can be restored. SERVPRO also manages the insurance claims process for a faster, easier experience.
    • Water removal. Using powerful pumps and extraction units, the team removes water from your home. This prevents water from spreading and speeds up drying time.
    • Drying and monitoring. After the bulk of the water is removed, technicians use drying equipment to remove water and reduce humidity. Specialists monitor the drying process daily to make sure it is progressing efficiently.
    • Removing damaged materials. If materials such as wet carpet cannot be restored, the team will let you know and remove them from the home.
    • Clean, sanitize and deodorize. Using a variety of specially formulated products and specialized equipment, technicians clean, sanitize and deodorize floors, furniture and other belongings.
  • Repairs and construction. The goal is to restore your home to its former condition and some construction work may be necessary. Whether that involves minor repairs or rebuilding parts of your home, SERVPRO handles the full process.

Protecting Your Possessions

If you’re concerned about losing family photos or important documents in a flood, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. Here are tips from the Insurance Information Institute (III):

    • Use waterproof bins. If you’re storing belongings in a basement or other areas prone to dampness, keep them in waterproof bins.
    • Don’t store valuables in risky areas. Avoid placing memorabilia, such as boxes of family photos, in an area of your home where moisture or water can ruin it.
  • Use shelving in basements. If water floods your basement, your belongings are less likely to be damaged if they are on shelves.
  • Take inventory. If you need to make an insurance claim, having a list and photographs of your belongings will save time and trouble. 

Homeowners insurance might not cover water damage

Regarding insurance claims, a typical homeowners policy covers water damage only under certain circumstances, such as a pipe bursting. It does not cover sewer backups or flooding unless you purchased a separate rider or flood insurance. For more detail, review your insurance policy. 

Restoring Your Belongings After an Emergency

If your home is flooded, take immediate action to minimize the damage. Call your insurance agent to find out if your situation is covered and contact professionals like the SERVPRO team to begin the cleanup and restoration process. 

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