Disaster Do’s & Don’ts

Water Damage – Initial Do’s and Don’ts

If you have been the victim of water damage at your home or office, time is of the essence. It is important
for you to know that your insurance carrier expects you to take steps to prevent further damages and
your coverage stipulates that you make every reasonable effort to minimize the damage.

You must make every effort to determine the source of the water and see if it can be shut off, if only
temporarily, to prevent further damage. It may be necessary for you to call a licensed plumber for repairs at the
source of the water. Remember to call AFTERDISASTER for help immediately…

While you are waiting for AFTERDISASTER to arrive, there are things you should and should not do to help
contain the damages and prevent further loss:

Do’s:

  • SHUT OFF THE WATER SOURCE WHEN POSSIBLE.
  • Turn off the circuit breakers supplying electricity to wet areas.
  • Unplug and remove any small electrical devices currently located on wet carpet.
  • Watch slipping hazards when walking from wet carpet onto vinyl or hardwood floors.
  • Remove valuable paintings and art objects to a safe place.
  • Remove Oriental or colored area rugs from wet carpeting.
  • Carefully remove miscellaneous items from wood furniture and wipe it down.
  • Remove books, magazines and other color staining items from wet floors.
  • Place aluminum foil or saucers between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  • Remove and prop up wet cushions to facilitate drying. Check them for any color bleeding.
  • Separate wet clothing to prevent moisture build-up and color transfer.
  • Punch small holes in sagging ceilings to help trapped water escape. If unsure about the danger
    of the ceiling collapsing, don’t attempt to punch these holes!
  • Begin to remove as much standing water as possible by mopping and blotting with dry white
    towels.
  • Open wet cabinet doors and drawers. If swollen, do not force open.
  • Circulate air for maximum drying by opening windows in cool weather or turning on the air
    conditioning in warm weather.

Dont’s:

  • Do not turn ceiling fans on when the ceiling is wet.
  • Do not use a household vacuum to remove standing water.
  • Do not leave wet fabrics in place. Dry as soon as possible.
  • Do not leave books, magazines or other color staining items from wet floors.
  • Do not leave furniture directly on wet carpeting.
  • Do not attempt to clean upholstery, oriental rugs or other potentially color staining
    fibers with ordinary household cleaners.
  • Do not leave colored rugs on wet wall-to-wall carpeting. Remove them until
    carpeting is completely dry.
  • Do not begin to repair or repaint any damage surfaces until they are completely
    dry.

Fire Damage – Initial Do’s and Don’ts

If you have experienced damage to your home or business as a result of fire or smoke infiltration, please do not
enter the damaged property without clearance from the fire department. Fires have been known to rekindle
from residual heat or smoldering embers.

When relocation is necessary, make sure you:

  • Ask your insurance company what steps you are required to follow. Is there any immediate
    action you must take to prevent further damage? Policies differ widely, so it is important to
    ask your agent or company how you should address the immediate needs of extracting water,
    covering exposed areas and handling the soot and odor issues.
  • Take an inventory of all damaged property, complete with description and purchase price
    information. Your insurance company will require this information.
  • If the damage is extensive enough to require that you leave your property, make sure to notify
    the police and request immediate assistance from you insurance company in making
    arrangements to board up any openings.
  • Contact area disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army,
    and your local church for help with immediate needs. Keep all receipts for necessary
    purchases from the time of the fire: meals, clothing, accommodations, replacement medicines
    and personal care items, etc.

In the event of fire/smoke damage, there are a number of issues that you need to address immediately to help
contain the damage while AFTERDISASTER is on the way.

Do’s:

  • In the event of significant fire/smoke damage, make sure the fire department and your utility providers have determined it is safe to reconnect water, electricity or gas.
  • Upon re-entering your property, look for structural damage to ceilings, roof and walls that may be compromised and subject to collapse.
  • In the event of contained fire/smoke damage, IMMEDIATELY turn off your heating/cooling system to prevent airborne soot particles from infiltrating through out your home. Change the furnace filter.
  • Open windows for ventilation.
  • Contain the damage by shutting doors in the affected area and placing towels under the door to prevent the airborne soot particles and odor from spreading.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air register and returns. Limit your movements within your home or business as much as possible. Airborne soot particles will become impregnated in carpets and upholstery. Try to avoid inhaling the soot. A respirator is advised.
  • Wipe off and protect the chrome on plumbing fixtures and appliances by applying a light coating of Vaseline or oil. This will help to prevent the metal from pitting due to the acidic nature of the soot particles.
  • Keep hands as clean as possible. Soot, combined with the oil in your hands, can further contaminate walls, woodwork and upholstery. This makes the cleaning process more difficult.

Dont’s:

  • Do not consume any canned or packaged food, beverages or medicines until the level of exposure to heat, smoke and soot has been determined. They may have been contaminated.
  • Do not throw away any damaged goods until an inventory has been taken.
  • Do not attempt to wash any walls, ceilings or other absorbent surfaces without consulting a professional first.
  • Do not attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without consulting a professional first.
  • If the ceiling appears wet, do not turn on any ceiling fixtures.
  • Do not use any electrical appliances until they have been cleaned.
  • Do not take clothing, draperies, linens, etc. to a normal dry cleaner. These items require special equipment and procedures to fully remove soot and smoke odor.

The above suggestions may not apply in every situation. The most important thing to be aware of is the
potential danger that can exist and take appropriate precautions.