A flooded room can pose many hazards, both to your home and to your safety. When flooding is the result of a burst pipe, chances are the flood will be relatively contained and the flood waters will be relatively clean. The following tips can keep you safe.
Tip #1: Shut Off the Power
It's no secret that water and electricity don't mix. Turn off the power at the breaker box to the room or area of the home that is flooded. If the flooding is occurring in an upstairs room, you should also turn off the electricity to the rooms beneath the flood site. This is because water can leak into the ceiling and interfere with ceiling or wall fixture wiring. Wait until you get an electrician or flood restoration technician's okay before turning the power back on.
Tip #2: Use the Right Equipment
Your household vacuum isn't meant for sucking up water. At best, this will simply ruin your vacuum. At worst, you will create an electrical shock or fire hazard if the vacuum shorts out. As a general rule, do not use anything to clean up excess water unless it is specifically made for the purpose. This pretty much limits you to the use of a wet-dry shop vacuum. Also, do not place electrical appliances on wet carpet. For example, if you use fans to help dry out the room, set them on boards or another dry service so you don't create an electrical hazard.
Tip #3: Check the Ceilings
A flooded upstairs room can cause hazards that you won't find on a bottom floor, namely weakened ceilings. If a pipe bursts in a wall, the space in the ceiling may fill with water before there is any visible sign of flooding in the room above. This results in weakened wall board in the ceiling that is also supporting a lot of water weight. It is even more of a concern if there are heavy items in the flooded room that could fall through, such as a bathtub or toilet. Cordon off the room with the sagging ceiling and the room above that is flooded. Only a professional restoration tech should enter these rooms since they now pose a major safety danger.
Tip #4: Verify the Source
Most non-natural floods from burst supply pipes, which are clean water, or from an overflowing sink drain, which is typically graywater. Neither of these pose a major health hazard. The only time there would be a concern is if sewage is involved. If a sewage pipe, such as the one leading from your toilet or the main house drain, appears to be the issue, do not attempt any cleanup on your own. Sewage waste is easily identified by its odor. This is considered hazardous waste and a technician trained in water damage cleanup and disposal is necessary.