Recent extreme global weather events remind us of the destructive power that nature can wreak. Whilst hurricanes are thankfully extremely rare in the UK, we do suffer from flooding. Whether you believe in climate change or not, these extreme weather events seem to becoming more frequent.
DID YOU KNOW
The Bristol channel may seem an unlikely location for a tsunami, but devastating floods in 1607 which are believed to have killed up to 2,000 people is now commonly believed to have been a tsunami. Low-lying places in Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, and South Wales were flooded, wiping out entire villages.
Now, thankfully, we’re not expecting another tsunami any time soon, but heavy rain, tidal surges or even burst water pipes are very possible and can lead to flooding. There’s not much you can do about freak weather conditions, apart from maybe place sandbags in an effort to divert the water, but you can reduce the chances of having a burst water pipe by insulating water pipes against frost, keeping the heating on low overnight and weekends to ensure temperatures don’t drop below 0, and knowing where your mains water stopcock is located so that you can minimise any water damage if a pipe were to burst.
If the worst does happen and your property floods, here are three steps you can use to keep everyone safe and restore your property to its former glory.
Categorise the incident
Identifying the source of the flooding and the extent of the damage is the first and perhaps most important step. Has the cause been identified and stopped and what is the quality of the water? There are generally three categories of flood water – clean water, grey water and black water.
Clean water isn’t harmful to humans and escapes from broken pipes and appliances, whilst grey water carries some risk due to the presence of micro-organisms. Black water however is water from an unsanitary source, and often involves sewage and other water that contains high levels of contaminants. As well as categorising the water type, other factors need to be considered to completely risk assess the area, such as whether the issue is the result of a vertical leak or aged penetration.
Understand the risks
Whilst identifying the water quality opens up a whole heap of potential hazards and will determine how to proceed, understanding issues with mould is another vital step. Mould growth is one of the main complications following flood or water damage, and without a good understanding of the hazards that go hand-in-hand with this, everyone is at risk of health concerns, including immune system suppression and respiratory problems.
The clean up
Once the risks have been identified, the clean-up process can begin. Every project begins with a multi-clean, a process which involves the removal of all unsanitary material and the application of a sanitising treatment. As well as providing multi-cleaning services, you need to consider removing trapped moisture, lowering humidity levels and thoroughly drying out the area with heated de-humidification.
Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to call in specialist contractors, or your insurance company might take care of this for you. Whatever the result, remember it might take a while, but things will return to normal.