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Flooding: How to Best Prepare Your Home for It, and How to Respond to It If Floods Have Already Hit

The series of powerful storms that hit the Midwest and South not long ago, flooding roads, towns and damaging homes, has left thousands of people wondering how to clean up the soggy mess of melting snow and rain. It's a scenario that every state in the United States is at risk for, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), yet one that catches many unprepared.

flood damage

Six inches of water will cause a loss of control and stalling in most vehicles. A foot of water will float most vehicles, and two feet of rushing water can carry most vehicles (including pick-up trucks and SUVs) away.

Sometimes, flooding happens so quickly that no one sees it coming (known as flash flooding), other times flooding develops gradually, over a matter of days. Even if you think your home is not in a floodplain, you should be aware that even tiny creaks, dry streambeds and low-lying ground that looks safe in dry weather can pose a hazard if heavy rains fall.

How to Prepare Before a Flood

Before there's any threat of severe weather, you can protect your home from floodwater by following these tips from FEMA:

  • Don't build your home in a floodplain, and if you do make sure you reinforce your home.

  • Make sure you elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they're located in an area that could get wet.

  • Install "check valves" in sewer traps so that floodwater doesn't back up into your home.

  • Use barriers (floodwalls, beams, levees) to prevent floodwater from entering your home.

  • Use waterproofing sealant to seal basement walls and avoid water seepage.

  • Purchase flood insurance so you're protected in the event that damage occurs.

What to do During a Flood

If a flood is upon you, here's what you should do:

  • If there's time, move important items to an upper level, and bring in outdoor furniture, etc.

  • Turn off your utilities and disconnect electrical appliances. If you're already in standing water, don't touch electrical equipment.

  • If you must evacuate, walk in water that is not moving, using a stick to make sure the ground is solid before you step (six inches of rushing water can knock you down).

  • If you're in a vehicle, don't drive into a flooded area. If water is rising around your car, get out and move to a dry area if possible.


Would you know what to do in a flood or fire? Take this important safety quiz to find out now!

After a Flood: What You Need to Know

The aftermath of a flood can be devastating, but knowing how to clean up, safely and efficiently, can help to keep damages to a minimum. First, for your own safety:

  • Don't drink tap water until you can confirm that it's safe to drink (flooding often contaminates water supplies).

  • Avoid walking in floodwater, as it can be contaminated with bacteria or electrically charged from downed power lines.

  • Be cautious when you enter a previously flooded area, as there may be structural damage that's not visible.

Once you've been given the all-clear to return to your home, contact your insurance agent to discuss your claim, and then your cleanup can begin. If you decide to hire cleanup crews, make sure they're well qualified. However, often during widespread disasters like floods, cleanup teams are so busy they can be next to impossible to find, and time is of the essence.

It's essential to begin cleanup as soon as possible, as mold can begin to grow in just 48 hours. Because of this, as you clean you'll be stirring up mold spores and mycotoxins (fungal toxins), which have the potential to cause disease including asthma, allergies and others.

The first thing you should do, before you begin cleanup, is use an Air Treatment System to clean your air, and keep it that way, as you are working. The last thing you need on top of the flood damage is to become sick from breathing in mold spores!

Watch a live animated demonstration of how the PIONAIR Air Treatment System works -- and why its "photocatalysis" technology makes it superior to other air purifiers.


See the Animated Pioneer Demonstration Now!

We highly recommend the PIONAIR Air Treatment System for this purpose. Unlike most air purifiers, the PIONAIR™ Air Treatment System doesn't wait for pollutants to contact a filter or plate. Instead, the PIONAIR generates air-purifying technology that migrates through the area and neutralizes organic odors, microbes, and molds at their source.

As a result, the PIONAIR produces fresh clean air throughout your home or office uniformly, by addressing the pollutant source -- without the use of fans, filters, or plates!

Now it's time to take the following steps to get your home dry and de-contaminated:

  • Get a wet vacuum and several large fans.

  • Vacuum up all the excess water. If deep water is in your basement, you should pump the water out gradually (about one-third of the water per day). If you pump the water from a basement too quickly, pressure from the outside water-saturated soil could cause the walls to collapse.

  • Open up your doors and windows, and place the fans in the openings with the exhaust side facing out, to dry things out as quickly as possible.

  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet, as floodwater can carry bacteria and chemicals. This includes walls, floors, closets, shelves, furniture and other items. To do this, use an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner that won't stain, and use it along with PerfectClean Ultramicrofiber Mops and cloths , which will be able to pick up even microscopic contaminants. Any food that has come into contact with floodwaters should be thrown away.

  • Wash your hands often if you come into contact with floodwater.

As you continue your cleanup efforts, make sure you protect your home from further damage, if storms are still expected. You should pile sandbags near any flood-prone areas and use tarps to cover any ceiling leaks so that more water does not come into your home.

Finally, as you begin to cope with the flood damage, remember to take care of yourself and your family. Restore your appliances when it's safe to do so, so you have access to electricity and clean water. Meanwhile, eat well, rest often, and seek help from family, friends, the American Red Cross and other aid organizations.

Recommended Reading

Floodwaters Carry Dangerous Bacteria: What You Should Do if YOU are Ever Exposed to Bad Bacteria

Severe Weather: The Most to Least Fatal & the Key Steps to Save Your Life

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

American Red Cross

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