Emergency Response to Water Damage: What to Do First

Water damage can be a devastating experience for homeowners and property owners. Whether it’s caused by a burst pipe, a leaky roof, or a natural disaster, water damage can lead to structural issues, mold growth, and health hazards if not addressed promptly and properly. Knowing how to handle water damage is crucial in order to minimize the damage and restore your home or property to its pre-damaged condition. In this article, we will discuss the steps you need to take to handle water damage effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Assess the severity of the water damage to determine the necessary steps for restoration.
  • Turn off the power supply to avoid electrocution and further damage.
  • Stop the source of water damage to prevent further flooding.
  • Remove standing water as soon as possible to prevent mold growth.
  • Dry out the affected area thoroughly to prevent further damage and mold growth.

Assess the Severity of the Water Damage

The first step in handling water damage is to assess the severity of the damage. This will help you determine the extent of the problem and what steps need to be taken to address it. Factors to consider when assessing the severity of water damage include the amount of water present, the affected area, and the duration of exposure.

If there is a large amount of standing water, it is likely that the damage is severe. Additionally, if the affected area is extensive, such as multiple rooms or floors, it may require professional assistance to properly address the issue. The longer the water has been present, the higher the risk of mold growth and other secondary damages.

Turn Off the Power Supply

Before you begin any water damage restoration efforts, it is crucial to turn off the power supply in the affected area. Water and electricity do not mix well and can pose a serious safety hazard. To turn off the power supply, locate your main electrical panel and switch off the circuit breaker that controls power to the affected area. If you are unsure which circuit breaker controls that area, it is best to turn off power to the entire house or property.

It is important to exercise caution when dealing with electrical systems in wet conditions. If you are unsure about how to safely turn off the power supply, it is best to contact a professional electrician for assistance.

Stop the Source of Water Damage

Once the power supply has been turned off, the next step is to identify and stop the source of the water damage. This could be a burst pipe, a leaking roof, or a malfunctioning appliance. If it is safe to do so, turn off the water supply to the affected area. This can usually be done by turning off the main water valve or shutting off the water supply to the specific area.

If you are unable to stop the source of the water damage on your own, it is important to contact a professional plumber or roofer to address the issue. Leaving the source of the water damage unchecked can lead to further damage and make restoration efforts more difficult.

Remove Standing Water

Once the source of the water damage has been stopped, it is important to remove any standing water as quickly as possible. Standing water can cause further damage to your property and create an environment for mold growth. To remove standing water, you can use a wet/dry vacuum, a sump pump, or even buckets and mops.

If there is a large amount of standing water, it may be necessary to rent or purchase specialized equipment such as industrial-sized wet/dry vacuums or submersible pumps. It is important to wear protective gear such as gloves and boots when removing standing water to prevent any potential health hazards.

Dry Out the Affected Area

Emergency response to water damage: what to do first

After removing standing water, it is crucial to dry out the affected area thoroughly. This will help prevent mold growth and further damage to your property. Open windows and doors to promote air circulation and use fans and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.

If there are carpets or rugs in the affected area, it may be necessary to remove them in order to properly dry out the space. You can also use towels or other absorbent materials to soak up any remaining moisture.

Salvage and Protect Your Personal Belongings

During the water damage restoration process, it is important to salvage and protect your personal belongings from further damage. Remove any wet items from the affected area and place them in a dry, well-ventilated space. If possible, separate damaged items from undamaged ones to prevent cross-contamination.

For items that are not salvageable, such as furniture or electronics, it may be necessary to dispose of them properly. Contact your local waste management facility for guidance on how to dispose of these items safely.

Disinfect and Sanitize the Affected Area

After the affected area has been dried out, it is important to disinfect and sanitize the space to prevent mold growth and other health hazards. Use a mixture of bleach and water to clean hard surfaces such as floors, walls, and countertops. Be sure to wear protective gear such as gloves and a mask when using bleach.

For soft surfaces such as carpets and upholstery, it may be necessary to hire a professional cleaning service to properly disinfect and sanitize these items. They have the necessary equipment and expertise to ensure that these items are thoroughly cleaned and free from any potential contaminants.

Contact Your Insurance Company

When dealing with water damage, it is important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They will guide you through the claims process and provide you with the necessary information on what is covered under your policy. Be prepared to provide them with detailed information about the extent of the damage, including photographs if possible.

It is important to document all communication with your insurance company, including phone calls and emails. Keep copies of all receipts for expenses related to the water damage restoration process, as these may be reimbursable under your policy.

Hire a Professional Water Damage Restoration Company

While it is possible to handle minor water damage on your own, it is often best to hire a professional water damage restoration company for more severe cases. They have the necessary equipment, expertise, and experience to properly assess and address the water damage.

When choosing a water damage restoration company, it is important to do your research and choose a reputable and certified company. Look for companies that are certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and have positive reviews from previous customers. It is also important to ensure that they are properly insured and licensed.

Prevent Future Water Damage

Once the water damage has been addressed and your property has been restored, it is important to take steps to prevent future water damage. Regularly inspect your property for any signs of leaks or water damage, such as damp spots on walls or ceilings, musty odors, or increased water bills. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

It is also important to maintain your property by cleaning gutters regularly, repairing any damaged roof tiles or shingles, and ensuring that your plumbing system is in good working order. Consider installing a sump pump in your basement or crawl space to prevent flooding during heavy rainstorms.

Water damage can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, but knowing how to handle it properly can help minimize the damage and restore your home or property to its pre-damaged condition. By assessing the severity of the damage, turning off the power supply, stopping the source of water damage, removing standing water, drying out the affected area, salvaging and protecting your personal belongings, disinfecting and sanitizing the affected area, contacting your insurance company, hiring a professional water damage restoration company, and taking steps to prevent future water damage, you can effectively handle water damage and maintain a safe and healthy home or property.

If you’re dealing with water damage in Braselton, Southeast Water Restoration is here to help. In addition to their emergency response services, they also offer 24/7 water damage restoration. Their team of experts can quickly assess the situation and provide the necessary repairs and cleanup to minimize further damage. Don’t let water damage ruin your property – contact Southeast Water Restoration today for prompt and professional assistance. Learn more about their water damage restoration services in Braselton.


What is water damage?

Water damage refers to any damage caused to a property or its contents due to the intrusion of water. This can be caused by natural disasters such as floods or storms, plumbing issues, or appliance malfunctions.

What are the immediate steps to take in case of water damage?

The first step is to ensure your safety and turn off the source of water if possible. Then, try to remove as much water as possible using towels or a wet/dry vacuum. Move any furniture or belongings to a dry area and open windows and doors to increase ventilation.

When should I call a professional for water damage restoration?

If the water damage is extensive or if there is a risk of mold growth, it is best to call a professional water damage restoration company. They have the necessary equipment and expertise to properly dry and restore your property.

What are the risks of not addressing water damage promptly?

If water damage is not addressed promptly, it can lead to mold growth, structural damage, and health hazards. Mold can grow within 24-48 hours of water damage and can cause respiratory issues and other health problems.

What should I do if I suspect mold growth?

If you suspect mold growth, it is important to call a professional mold remediation company. They can assess the extent of the mold growth and safely remove it to prevent further damage and health hazards.

How can I prevent water damage in the future?

Regular maintenance of plumbing and appliances can help prevent water damage. It is also important to ensure proper drainage around your property and to address any leaks or water damage promptly. Consider installing a sump pump or water alarm for added protection.