Taking appropriate action immediately following a disaster (such as a flood or fire) can be critical in successfully restoring affected areas and/or items to their pre-damaged condition. You can help minimize the long term effects of disasters by following some basic emergency procedures compiled by the members and staff of RIA (Restoration Industry Association).
Fire and Smoke Damage
Basic Do’s and Don’ts in the Event of a Fire
- DO keep movement throughout the location to a minimum to help prevent soot particles from spreading or becoming impregnated into upholstery and carpets.
- DO clean/protect chrome trim on appliances with a light coating of Vaseline or other oil.
- DO blow off or brush-vacuum loose spot particles from upholstery, drapes and carpet; protect with old sheets or towels.
- DO open windows for ventilation (depending on weather conditions).
- DO change furnace filter if blower is operating.
- DO empty freezer/refrigerator if electricity is off; prop doors open with a rolled towel or newspaper.
- DO clean/protect bathroom faucets, tub fittings and towel bars with a light coating of oil.
- DO pour antifreeze in toilet bowls, sinks and tubs to prevent freezing if heat is off in winter.
- DO call plumber to drain heating system if heat is off in winter.
- DO wash plants with water on both sides of leaves.
- DO remove pets to a clean, safe environment.
- DON’T remain in the building if it has not yet been determined to be safe.
- DON’T wipe or attempt to wash walls, ceilings or other absorbent surfaces.
- DON’T use upholstered furniture if it can be avoided.
- DON’T use food items or canned goods which have been exposed to excessive heat.
- DON’T use televisions, stereos, or other electrical items until they are checked and cleaned.
- DON’T attempt to turn on your computer, as it may be subject to additional damage.
- DON’T send smoke-affected garments to an ordinary dry cleaner; improper cleaning may set in smoke and/or odor.
Basic Do’s and Don’ts in the Event of Water Damage
- DO be extremely careful where you step/walk if the electricity has not been shut off.
- DO remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
- DO wipe water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
- DO remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying (check for possible bleeding).
- DO place aluminum foil, china saucers, or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.
- DO turn on air conditioning for maximum drying in summer; open windows in winter.
- DO open drawers and cabinet doors for complete drying (do not force).
- DO remove valuable oil paintings and art objects to a safe place.
- DO blot wet carpet with clean, white towels.
- DO remove wet area rugs off hardwood floors.
- DO open suitcases and luggage to dry (in sunlight, if possible).
- DO remove wet books and spread out to dry.
- DO lift draperies off carpet; loop through coat hanger and place hanger on drapery rod.
- DO punch holes in sagging ceilings to relieve trapped water; place pots or bowls underneath.
- DON’T turn the heat to a high temperature; this could facilitate mold growth.
- DON’T go into a flooded basement without wearing rubber boots.
- DON’T leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible (hang furs/leather goods to dry separately at room temperature).
- DON’T leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets, floors or upholstery.
- DON’T use your household vacuum to remove water.
- DON’T use televisions, stereos, or other electrical items while standing on wet carpets or floors.
- DON’T turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet (and do keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water).