Without warning, the swimming pool you always wanted as a kid has made its way to the most inconvenient part of your home. Whether it was a burst pipe or an unexpected storm, you may feel like you’re drowning in emotional stress. Before you abort the sinking ship or try your luck at forming gills, here are a few things to consider.

Stop, look, and listen

Have you magically grown a few inches in the last few minutes or are your ceilings lower? Take into account signs of danger around you. Being aware of sagging ceilings, wet tiles and further leaks can prevent injury and further despair.

Remember water is a conductor

After taking a few calming breaths, your first action should be to shut off your electricity and gas. Refrain from using any electrical appliances and use caution when navigating the flooded area. Your initial response may be to lunge into absorbing the water. Stop and consider the risks, they could be shocking.

Finding the source is key

Once your electricity is off, put on your detective hat and find the source of your water mischief. Once you’ve found it, put a stop to it. This could be as simple as turning off the main water line. This may require outside help if the source can’t be found in haste.

Get help now, less worry later

Your water, electricity and gas are off and you are ready to start the drying process. The problem is while you were collecting your valuables and stopping the flow, the surfaces of your home have absorbed water along with any bacteria it contains. Mold will start to form within the first 24 hours of the flooding incident. Calling a professional will insure your home is thoroughly cleaned, dried and safe.

Waiting increases damage

Although professional service may be needed and is available on a 24/7 basis, there are a few steps you can take to dry surfaces and disinfect the area right away. Especially if the water source is unpurified, clean walls and surfaces with a bleach solution. Disinfect dishes, clothing and other daily use items that were in contact with the unclean water source. Turn on fans, open windows, remove what you can from flooded areas and mop up excess water. Mold likes to grow in dark and soaked areas, so let in light and increase the airflow.

For more information on dealing with damage specifically from floods, check out this Red Cross brochure.