You may, at some time, encounter a dangerous situation in your home or place of work that you are unable to deal with yourself. Emergency situations can develop from many causes including adverse weather conditions causing flooding or freezing pipes, from fire or explosion. These events have the potential to damage your property or, worse still, affect your health or even your life.
When such a situation develops it is important that you know what to do and how to get help quickly. Please take a few minutes to look at the HELP! leaflet that contains some useful contact numbers
Dealing with the aftermath of a flood can be daunting. Tackle the work safely while you bring things back to normal.
Take the following steps to safely restore your home to its former glory.
As well the extensive cleanup needed after a flood, sometimes the damage can extend to your property's electrical wiring or central heating. For professional help in assessing and tackling these kinds of repairs call a qualified Electrician or Heating Engineer.
Remember never to switch on gas or electricity supplies while they're still wet.
Step 1 - Immediate Action
Your first priority after flood damage is to salvage as much furniture as possible. Kitchen units and pine furniture are prone to absorbing water, but are often salvageable when they dry out.
Carpets & Sofas
If the carpets or soft furnishings in your home were submerged by water they will most likely be ruined. Don't throw them away! Remove them along with the underlay, and put them outside in case an insurance valuation inspection is necessary. For help with restoring them back to their former glory, call Carpet & Upholstery Cleaners.
Lino or Vinyl
Lino or vinyl should be removed to reveal bare floor boards or concrete - there is a danger of dry rot setting in if moisture is trapped beneath.
Aim to strip the house as thoroughly as possible to allow the drying process to begin. Make sure you don't dispose of damaged goods until your insurers have had a chance to inspect them.
Step 2 - Water Removal
The simplest way of removing large amounts of water is by using pumps and/or buckets, followed by a wet-enabled vacuum cleaner to clear up the remainder.
You can hire a pump from a local hire shop or buy one from any good DIY shop. When buying a pump, it's important to ask for advice on the best rate of de-watering. You don't want to pump water out too quickly as any water surrounding the property may damage the foundations. Generally it's best to drain in stages - about a third of the volume daily.
Don't leave the basement full of water if pumping out is possible - this can cause serious structural damage. For a charge, the NI Fire and Rescue Authority, telephone 028 9266 4221 should be able to help you pump out large volumes of water.
Once you've pumped out all the standing water, the dry out of your property can begin. Speed up the process by removing a couple of floorboards at each end of affected ground-floor rooms. Aid this ventilation by opening windows and turning the heating on low.
You can help plaster to dry by removing wall coverings and skirting boards. You may also want to hire a dehumidifier - close the windows if you use one. For help with restoring your plastering, call a Plasterer.
Chimneys should be dried out carefully, starting with only small fires before moving on to larger ones. This avoids expansion of water to steam which will damage the structure of your property.
It's possible to confirm whether your home has dried out by using a meter, which can also be obtained either from building specialists or a hire shop. As a general rule, lack of condensation indicates your property has dried out.
Step 3 - Disinfect & Clean
After a flood, it's important to clean and disinfect everything that has come into contact with the floodwaters to avoid illnesses.
Take the following safety precautions before you begin cleaning:
- When handling debris or cleaning flood damaged areas and items, wear protective clothes like waterproof gloves and sturdy boots.
- Cover open cuts and wounds on exposed skin with a waterproof plaster.
- Immediately wash your hands with disinfectant if you've been working in floodwater or sludge after your clean-up.
- It's highly recommended to leave your property vacant until the following steps have been carried out. Also contact Down District Council who may be able to help with clean up materials and further advice. Remove the sludge - as the water subsides you can expect large mud deposits to remain on your walls and floors. Shovel out as much of it as you can and use a garden sprayer to hose down the surfaces. Pay special attention to ducts/pipes where mud residues gather.
- Clean surfaces - use a brush, hot soapy water and a heavy duty cleaner. Pay attention to hidden areas where dirt can collect. Surfaces exposed to flood water contaminated by oil and diesel will need additional cleaning. A detergent solution is best for this.
- Disinfect - ensure you follow the instructions on the packaging. All food preparation surfaces, equipment, containers, utensils, crockery and cutlery must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before use.
- Dry - allow all cleansed and disinfected areas to dry thoroughly. Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible - this will assist in the prevention of moulds.
Step 4 - Mould Removal
Moulds can usually be detected by a musty odour and discoloration of surfaces. While dealing with mould removal in your home, well-fitting respirators with toxic particle cartridges are recommended, as well as wearing gloves and a mask. These can all be bought at a good DIY store.
The most basic solution to mould problems is to disinfect and dry the affected items. Clean mould using a 4% bleach solution (4 caps of bleach to 100 caps of water).
Be wary of hidden moulds. Check behind furniture like settees and wardrobes by pulling them away from the walls. This gives air the chance to circulate and helps the area to dry out.
Step 5 - Future Prevention
Once your home is back to normal, the last step is to avoid future damage and annoyance if another flood occurs by being well prepared:
- Move as many valuables as possible to the higher positions in the home (first floors or higher).
- Seal important documents (insurance policy etc), photographs and similar in plastic bags along with a list of useful phone numbers such as your local council, insurance company and emergency services.
- Keep an emergency kit consisting of a torch, mobile phone (if possible), first aid kit, radio, Wellington boots, rubber gloves, disinfectant, soap, towels, bottled water and any necessary medication.
- Make plans for when and where to meet family members as well as what to do with any domestic animals (either moving them to a safer area or keeping them in an upstairs room) in the event of a flood
Useful Contact Telephone Numbers in the event of a Flood:
|DOE Roads Service:
||030 0200 0100
|Floodline (Rivers Agency):
||028 9260 6100
|NI Fire and Rescue Service:
||028 9266 4221
|NI Housing Executive:
||0844 892 0900
Out of Hours: 0844 892 0901
|Citizens Advice Bureau:
||028 4461 4110
|Down District Council:
||028 4461 0800
www.hpa.org.uk (Health Protection Agency)
www.nhbc.co.uk (National House Building Council)
www.fmb.co.uk (Federation of Master Builders)
www.oftec.org (Oil Firing Technical Association)
Rivers Agency for Northern Ireland
Met Office UK.
Water Pollution Guide