Before entering an area that has been flooded, wait until the police and emergency services have declared the area safe.
Flood waters will conceal many dangers including:
- road scours
- dislodged stormwater and/or sewer pit lids
- submerged objects
In addition, the floodwaters could contain chemicals and other forms of contamination.
Only after given the 'all clear' by authorities should you enter the affected area, but wear good, solid rubber boots or rubber soled shoes and rubber or leather gloves for your own protection.
Always check with your electricity, gas and water service providers in order to determine whether supply has been interrupted and if it is safe for you to turn them back on. If your private water supply system has been flooded you must assume that its contents have been contaminated.
Check with your insurance provider to confirm on what assistance your policy may provide.
Any able-bodied person can do most cleaning and drying out, while a competent house handyperson could easily cope with minor repairs and re-decorating. Some jobs however, for example: electrical work, plumbing & gas fitting must be done by a licensed trades person or other qualified person and should never be attempted by the house owner.
Depending upon the level of flooding, it could take weeks to months to get a house back to its pre-impact condition.
However, it is important to start work just as soon as the rain stops and the water has receded. The initial tasks, which need to be done as quickly as possible, are as follows:
- Clean up, drain and start drying out the house as soon as flood waters recede.
- Take out everything that is wet and that can be moved, for example: floor coverings, furniture, bedding and clothing.
- On dry days, keep all doors and windows open. On wet days, leave windows slightly open.
- Drain away or pump out water under the house, and try to increase the air flow there to assist drying.
- Check for and remove trapped water and mud in wall cavities and doors, as well as ovens and other low level appliances, cupboard floor cavities, shower trays, baths, benches and under shelving, etc.
- Be well aware of loose floorboards, holes in the floor, sharp objects and sagging ceilings. Wet plaster is very heavy and has the potential to cause serious injury should it fall on top of you.
- Do not smoke in the building until such time that you have had the opportunity to open and air the house out as gases may have pocketed in the building.
- Look for other 'victims' that may have been dislodged from their own homes, for example: snakes and spiders.
- Electrocution: There is a very real risk of death within a flooded home containing energised electrical wiring, do not turn on any lights, powerpoints or appliances until such time that a qualified licensed electrician has had the opportunity to inspect the house prior.
- Boil all water to be used for consumption purposes or use bottled water until you can obtain confirmation that your water supplies have not been contaminated by the floodwaters.
- Discard all foods exposed to flood water except those in airtight sealed containers such as tins. Mark the tins with a permanent marker if you have to remove labels so the contents can be identified and treat the cans to disinfect the outer edges. Warning: do not use bleach solutions on aluminium cans.
- Remove and dispose of rubbish, decaying vegetation and driftwood.
- Wash out mud, dirt and debris from your home as soon as you can with a hose at medium pressure.
- Wash surfaces that have been inundated with floodwaters in order to reduce the level of flood born infections and pay particular attention to areas that may be reached by children.
- You should consider that everything has been exposed to floodwaters therefore as a precautionary measure, wash your hands thoroughly after handling all materials/articles.
- Mould can be a real problem. For advice on how to treat mould contact one of Environmental Health Officers by ringing 03 5272 5272.