Note: This article focusses on what you need to do after a flood. If you want to know how to prepare your home for a flood in the future, then check out our Flood Checklist for more information.
What to do when recovering from a flood
If you’ve been affected by the recent floods or live in area that you think is susceptible to flooding, then read our steps to recovery:
- Do not return to your property without first checking with emergency services if it is safe to do so.
- Only enter your property once they have given you the green light and you yourself are satisfied it is in a safe condition.
- Contact your insurance company ASAP to check whether you have flood cover, what you’re covered for, and to get started with the claims process. Insurance providers get swamped with claims after natural disasters, so the quicker you get in the queue, the better.
- Take pictures of the damage to the property as evidence for your claim. This is extremely important, as insurers will usually only pay for damage they can prove to their underwriters.
- Remove and discard any waterlogged or mud-damaged goods that might pose a health risk. (Read on for more details on this.)
- Make a list of each damaged item and include a detailed description, such as brand, model, and serial number – or keep a sample of damaged materials or fabrics to show the claims assessor.
- Store damaged or destroyed items somewhere safe unless you are absolutely sure they are broken beyond repair. You never know how costly it might be to replace everything, so you might need to hang onto the things you can repair.
- Speak to your insurer before authorising repairs. Emergency repairs should be undertaken in the first instance to make the property safe.
- Start the clean-up process! This can be quite arduous, so get some friends and family members or neighbours to give you a hand if possible. Don’t forget to help out your elderly neighbours with clean-up tasks they may not be able to do on their own.
What not to do when recovering from a flood
Flood damaged properties and the surrounding area can be extremely dangerous for a number of reasons. Therefore there are several things you shouldn’t do, such as the following:
- Do not touch floodwater with exposed skin: Boots and clothes are fine, but exposed skin is a no-no because floodwater is always full of bacteria. Do not allow children to play in or near floodwaters. If you must enter floodwaters at any time, wear long pants in a tough material, gumboots or other solid shoes, and check the depth and current strength with a stick as you go.
- Do not drive through floodwater: We’ve all heard it a million times before by now – if it’s flooded, forget it. Additionally, don’t drive or get in your vehicle it has been damaged to the point of not being roadworthy.
- Avoid electrical currents: Electrical systems may have been damaged by the floodwater and can be dangerous to operate. A qualified electrician is best placed to ensure you and your family’s safety. Also avoid fallen powerlines.
- Do not throw away goods that could be salvaged or repaired.
- Do not undertake major repairs or employ tradespeople without checking with your insurer: You may not be covered for unauthorised repairs.
- Do not eat or drink anything that has been touched by floodwaters: Make sure you boil all drinking water to purify it, until authorities have declared mains water safe to drink again.
- Do not do anything that puts your safety at risk.
Source: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
If you need assistance in understanding your insurance policy, have any queries about how the claims process works or any general enquiries, contact the Insurance Council Australia’s Catastrophe Hotline on 1800 734 621.