Nothing is quite a scary as walking into your place of business for another day at the office, and finding it flooded from a water leak! While your first instinct might be to panic, how you react can be the difference between remaining closed indefinitely, and starting the clean-up process.
First, you need to decide what to do. Who do you call? Do you leave or stay until they arrive? Emergencies like this are always unexpected and can happen anywhere, at any time. The best way to handle them is to be prepared, and the best time to prepare is before they happen!
In this post, we’re going to explore some of the ways you can prepare for when flooding strikes, and what to know if you find your office underwater.
Be Prepared: Safety First… ALWAYS!
While your first instinct might be to rush into the office and try to gather valuables, paperwork, or equipment like your laptop, the most important thing to remember is safety first! During a flood, the safety of you and your employees should always be your first consideration before rushing into any situation. You want to make sure that everyone gets out of the office safely.
Start by turning off the power in all rooms and areas of the office that are affected. This can prevent a messy situation from turning into a life-threatening one. Make sure you walk carefully on any wet surfaces, especially when transitioning from carpeted areas onto potentially slippery hard surfaces.
Carefully look at the ceiling. Avoid any areas that appear to be sagging, as they could collapse and cause serious, even life-threatening injuries. If the ceiling appears to be wet or sagging, do not turn on any overhead lights. Avoid operating any electrical appliances when standing on wet carpets or floors to avoid the possibility of serious shocks, or electrocution.
Know Where The Main Water, Gas and Electrical Shutoffs Are Located
A major part of making your space safe to move in is shutting off the utilities to prevent further potential damage. Know where your utility shut-offs are located, including water, gas, and electrical.
Typically, there is a main water shut-off valve located outside of your office. This may require a special valve key in order to shut the water, so make sure you know where it is located. If your space uses gas hearing, there may also be an external gas shutoff valve leading into the building, or outside your office. Know its location and whenever possible, make sure you convey this information to your building super, or to any emergency personnel on-site.
Finally, water and electricity do not play well together! If you have a circuit breaker and it is safe to do so, make sure you turn off the main power breaker to eliminate the possibility of serious injury.
Keep Track of Your Valuables
To keep replacement costs down, or file an insurance claim, know where your valuables are located and try to salvage them when it is safe to do so. Remove any expensive items like furniture, pictures, or paintings and make sure to place them in unaffected safe areas.
If you can’t move the furniture, try placing aluminum foil or plastic under the legs to help to make it easier to move. If the furniture is solid at the base, put wooden blocks or styrofoam under it. Make sure to clean off any water that may have gotten onto it to prevent warping, mold, or mildew.
If you have irreplaceable items, like documents, data, or other information on-site, make sure to create and store copies offsite BEFORE an incident. Remember the time to prepare for a disaster is before it happens! If your business relies on proprietary information, documents, or data, make a plan to back up your files and store them in a secure location offsite!
Know Who to Call When Disaster Strikes!
This is probably the most important information to have! In the middle of a disaster, keeping you head, and knowing who to call can often be the difference between tragedy or triumph! Make sure you have the numbers on hand for your plumber, electrician, building super, and a local water restoration company on hand and on your cell phone.
Don’t wait until a disaster to have a company to call! If a flood forces you to close your business, you’re losing money. The sooner you call a restoration company, the faster you’re back in business, so make sure to choose a reliable partner BEFORE disaster strikes!