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 good insurance and always 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 and your loved ones are safe and can get to higher ground if necessary.
- If it puts your safety at risk leave it alone till more help can come.
- Be wary of gas and electrical appliances, especially when it comes to water damage, get things properly checked before turning them on.
- If you have any, put on some protective gear, such as gloves and masks to protect you and your family from any exposed bacteria.
- 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 tarpaulins to prevent water from soaking the fabric.
- Take smaller, precious fabric or upholstery items with you if you have time to leave.
- 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.
- Dry out and clean your house if possible to do so, to prevent mould and bacteria from forming.
- 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. Make sure you have taken steps long before a potential event to help in the aftermath. Steps such as the following can help with a clean-up after the fact:
- Have a dehumidifier in your home. This helps reduce the chance of mildew and mould forming after a flood when moisture can be at the most harmful.
- Apply a fabric protector to your fabrics. Having a Scotchguard type fabric protector can help reduce the damage to your furniture. JAE’s fabric protector Fiberguard™ is a great option and comes with its own warranty.
- Have a Flood Safety Plan. If you live in an area that is prone to heavy rain or flooding, having a plan is essential. 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?
Even if you have done everything you can, have a plan in place. Have your furnishings protected with Fiberguard™, 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. Put all furnishings, carpeting (rugs) and bedding materials (mattress, duvet) outside on tarps or plastic sheets to dry in order to 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 dehumidifier. 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 mold or mildew forming in the future.
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.