Kansas City, Mo. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division offer safety tips to residents returning to check on flood damaged property and information on filing flood insurance claims.
Potential health/safety hazards after a disaster include carbon monoxide poisoning from generators used to power homes or clean-up equipment; electrocution from stepping into water charged by live electric wires; infections to cuts or scrapes that come into contact with surfaces contaminated by floodwater; chemical hazards from spills or storage tank breaks, respiratory and heat-related illnesses; and the worsening of chronic illness from overexertion. Those working outdoors are encouraged to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water because of the extreme temperatures.
Flooding Resources for Iowans include:
www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/fl_after.shtm – is a link to FEMA-recommended steps that should be taken immediately after a flood.
www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/coping.shtm – takes browsers to a multi-faceted FEMA Web page that contains detailed information on cleaning and salvaging household items.
emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/after.asp#cleanup – is a site maintained by the Center for Disease Control with helpful information on health/safety concerns that can result following a flood.
BEWARE OF Hazards
- First, check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. Contact professionals immediately if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric or sewer lines.
- Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
- Boil water until authorities declare the water supply safe to drink.
File your Flood Insurance Claim
- Call your insurance agent who handles your flood insurance to file a claim. Have the following information with you when you place your call: (1) the name of your insurance company (your agent may write policies for more than one company); (2) your policy number; and (3) a telephone number/e-mail address where you can be reached.
- Take photos of any water in the house and damaged personal property. If necessary, place these items outside the home. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting) to prepare your repair estimate.
- List damaged or lost items and include their age and value where possible. If possible, supply receipts for those lost items to the adjuster. Officials may require disposal of damaged items. If so, try to keep a swatch or other sample of the items for the adjuster.
- Remove wet contents immediately to prevent mold. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and other items holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. During the first 48 hours, you can help control mold growth by cleaning with non-ammonia detergents, soap, or commercial cleaner and disinfecting with a 10 percent bleach solution (1-1/2 cups of bleach in a gallon of water). Then dry and monitor for several days. If mold develops, throw the item away.
- Thoroughly dry out the building’s interior. Portable dehumidifiers are useful, and rental costs may be covered under your flood policy. An air conditioner can also be used to start the drying-out process.
- Help damaged walls dry out. If the walls are damaged, take photographs of the baseboard....