Electricity and Water Don’t Mix
Water plus electricity is a dangerous combo. So, before you begin cleaning up water from your home, determine whether you need to cut the power to your home. For small leaks, you should be okay without turning off the power. However, other situations dictate turning it off. For example, if your leak is from an appliance such as the hot water heater or dishwasher, it’s best to unplug them and/or switch off the power in the circuit breaker before you begin tinkering around with them. In case of severe flooding, it’s best to cut all the power to your home. In this instance, water could easily come in contact with electrical wiring in your home creating an incredibly dangerous situation.
Certain Water Can Contaminate
There are different safety concerns depending on the type of water that has flooded your home. Clean water (from sinks, bathtubs and water supply lines) won’t contaminate your home. This is called category one. Category two includes water from sources like toilet overflow and failed sump pumps. This is more dangerous than category one and may have chemical or biological contaminants. The worst type of water is called category three. This type of water contains unsanitary agents like bacteria and fungi and includes sources like seawater, sewage, toilet backflow from past the toilet trap, river or stream water, and other ground water or standing water. You’ll need to take extra precautions when dealing with water from category three like using gloves, respirators and protective eyewear during cleanup, keeping pets and children away from the water, and calling a professional to help decontaminate your home.
Please note: any and all porous materials affected by category 3 water must be thrown away! The contamination that can seep into porous materials can contaminate so deeply into the objects that the risk alone is enough to require disposal. Don’t try to deep clean the couch or that teddy bear, just toss it.
Mold Loves Moisture
Another major concern when dealing with water emergencies is mold growth. Unfortunately, mold loves damp environments and your wet carpet, floors, walls and ceilings make perfect breeding grounds. In fact, under the right circumstances, some molds can grow in as little as 24–48 hours. That’s why it’s so important to get your carpets and floors completely dry as soon as possible. In most cases, your carpet won’t dry on its own and you’ll need a professional with high-tech equipment to take out all the moisture from your carpet and the padding underneath. You’ll also need to act quickly before mold has a chance to grow and spread. Mold not only has an unpleasant musky smell, but it is potentially hazardous to your health. Mold can cause allergic reactions as well as serious respiratory problems. And just like mold, bacteria, mildew and fungi like damp environments as well. Therefore, if left untreated, your damp carpets could quickly become home to a host of unwanted organisms. Read tips for mold prevention.
Beware of Wet Surfaces
In addition to the hazardous conditions listed above, water in your home can cause some other dangerous situations as well. Use common sense and avoid slipping and falling on wet floors. You should also be aware of potential structural weaknesses that could be caused by contact with water, such as weakened ceilings, floors and walls, especially if the contact with water was prolonged.