In New Zealand there are certain regions and areas more at risk of flooding than others, like recent Canterbury flooding, Westland floods, and the West Auckland flooding events, for example. The first thing you can do to protect your home and your furnishings is to check if your home is in an at-risk area. Make sure you have appropriate insurance and always your insurer ask about natural disaster coverage.
It’s been raining cats and dogs, the rivers are swelling, you can see the flood water rising –what do you do? Here’s a few practical steps to take to mitigate damage if your home may be at risk of being flooded:
- If a flood starts to occur, make sure you, your loved ones and any pets are safe and can get to higher ground if necessary.
- Be extremely wary of standing in any water inside your home or commercial property. Gas and electrical appliances present a hazard to you. Electrical wiring/applicances can be faulty, and especially when it comes to water damage, they present the risk of electrocution. Older homes may that contain re-wireable fuses are especially a risk.
- If you can safely do so, you could turn off electrical power at the oudoor meter or internal switchboard. Any gas to your property can also be turned off at the street.
- Use sandbags if you have them.
- Pack up moveable furnishings (such as rugs, chairs, sofas if possible) and get them to a higher level, if you can or stack them on tables if you don’t have an upper floor.
- Cover/wrap what you can (cushions/squabs/chairs/sofas) with plastic sheets or waterproof tarpaulins to prevent water from soaking the fabric.
- Move any important documents and photographs to higher ground.
- If you need to leave, grab your pre-prepared go-bag.
- If there has been significant damage caused by the flood, take photos and lodge a claim online through your insurance company. If it’s safe to do so, wait for a response before disposing damaged items.
- Air out and clean your home (if possible and it is safe to do so), to prevent mould and bacteria from forming.
- If you have been inhabiting a flood affected home for a couple of days, it may be wise to put on protective gear, such as gloves and masks to protect you and your family from any exposed bacteria/mould.
- If you have had any essential services repairs done, make sure to keep copies of the invoices.
- Throw out any contaminated food and water supplies in the house, take photos of perishables to add to your claim.
- Check on your neighbours, especially those who require assistance.
In so many cases, unfortunately, nature doesn’t give us time to prepare. Making sure you prepare a flood plan for a potential event is a necessity, especially if the area you are in is prone to flooding. Steps such as the following can help with a clean-up after a flood event:
- Collect sandbags.
- Have dehumidifiers in your home. This helps reduce the chance of mildew and mould forming after a flood when moisture can be at the most harmful.
- Can you put up beams or railings in the garage to balance or hang furniture on?
- Do you have a waterproof container filled with essentials for emergencies?
- Apply a preventative fabric protector to your fabrics. Having a Scotchguard type fabric protector can help reduce the damage to your furniture from mould or bacteria. JAE have its own fabric protector - JAE’s fabric protector Fiberguard™ .
Even if you have done everything you can, floods can still cause significant water damage to the materials in your home. The following steps will help you, your insurance company, and our team at JAE with the aftermath and clean-up to help restore as much as we can.
1. Once weather has cleared, put all furnishings, carpeting, rugs, bedding materials, mattresses, duvets outside on waterproof tarpaulins or plastic sheets to dry. This will help prevent them from developing mould. This also keeps fabrics separate to stop the colours from bleeding onto one another.
2. Allow for more airflow around the house by opening doors, windows or running a fan or dehumidifiers. This will help start the drying process for hard to move objects, such as carpet.
3. Fabrics should be cleaned thoroughly, check each fabric label to see the most appropriate way of cleaning, to prevent further damage. Make sure everything is disinfected so that you and your loved ones don’t get sick.
4. Pressure treat larger objects with hot water to kill off any bacteria that may have soaked in.This is best done by a professional.
5. To remove stubborn odours caused by dampness, apply baking soda as it is a natural deodoriser. Vacuum up after an hour.
Any flood event can cause significant stress and damage. We recommend calling in help. Your insurance provider, friends and family, your local JAE team – you don’t have to deal with the aftermath alone. Because upholstered furniture is likely to soak up impurities, and carpet can be difficult to dry thoroughly on your own, to ensure proper cleaning and drying, it is best to contact your local JAE branch do this for you. This can help reduce the damage and mitigate any health issues with mould or mildew forming in the future. You should also watch out for flood pests in the aftermath.
In the event of a flood, your local JAE team are likely on their way, so you can rest assured that they’ll take care of it.
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