Given the high risk of infection, before you do any work in your home, be sure to put on the appropriate personal protective equipment (gloves and goggles) to avoid any contact with the water and wet materials. Even after the surfaces have dried, they may contain bacteria and cause infections.
- never live in a house in which there was stagnant water;
- keep children and pets away from the contaminated area;
- open the doors and windows to air out the rooms during the cleanup, which will help them dry faster and eliminate odours;
- take out anything that got soaked, and remove all waste and mud, with a shovel if necessary, then clean and disinfect every affected room;
- as soon as possible, remove from the house any materials that got soaked to prevent the proliferation of mold and the associated health risks: discard all carpets, rugs, mattresses, box springs, pillows, cloth toys and upholstered furniture because such items cannot be washed, rapidly dried or dry cleaned;
- discard any food, bottled liquids and food in jars, included home-made preserves that may have come in contact with water. Any cans that are not damaged must be washed and disinfected;
- discard any medication, beauty products and other personal care products that have come in contact with water;
- check walls up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) above the water mark. Open up those that got soaked or that absorbed water. Discard any wet insulation because it will no longer work as insulation and could propagate mold;
- throw out all absorbent material such as drywall, mineral wool, carpets, pressed wood, etc.
- verify the insulation around the water heater, refrigerator and freezer if it got wet;
- clean and disinfect all surfaces, inside cavities and structures with a common household cleaner: you should also clean surfaces that did not come in direct contact with water;
- once these steps have been completed, disinfect the surfaces with a solution of bleach (½ cup [125 ml]) of 5% concentrate to 2 gallons of water [10 to 1]), being sure to thoroughly aerate the area;
- rinse and clean the floors. If there is a subfloor, be sure that all of the water has been removed. Wash under the subfloor. Dry thoroughly and quickly, all the while checking for signs of mold. Wait until
everything is completely dry before closing up any cavities;
- aerate or close windows to dehumidify the house and reduce the humidity to normal levels. In winter, that level would be between 30% and 50%, and should not exceed 60 %.
- sterilize with boiling water any contaminated kitchen items; and
- watch for mold (musty, earthy or alcohol odour, green or black stains on the ground or walls) that may lead to health issues, and go see a doctor as soon as you develop any health issues.
Damage and documentation
- Prepare an inventory of the water damage on your property, with supporting photos or videos, and inform your insurer.
- Keep all receipts and proofs of purchase for your claim for the damaged items.
- Store all important documents that got wet in a freezer until you need them (after the clean-up, contact your lawyer to determine whether the documents that got wet should be conserved or if you only need to record and keep the information in them).
- Your insurer and the municipality must be immediately notified of all the damage to your property.