The First 24 Hours: What to Do Immediately Following a Flood

Whether a flood is caused by rain, groundwater, or a breakdown in your house’s water system, there are some suggested practices you should follow within the first 24 hours following the flood to protect the safety of your home and family and the best possible outcome with your insurance company.

Avoid Taking Additional Risks

If the water was severe enough for you to leave your home, make sure you return safely. Before entering the home, check for evident structural damage such as warping, loosened or cracked foundation parts, fissures, and holes. Contact utility companies if you suspect water, gas, electric, and sewer lines damage.

Take Photographs

Before you remove any water or perform any repairs, take photos or video to completely document the damage for your insurer. Digital versions are preferable since they can be stored electronically and copied readily. If you begin removing water or performing repairs before photographing the damage, you may reduce the extent of your coverage, he warns.

Take Care of Your Health

Even if your home’s water is pure, it may be contaminated by sewage or household pollutants. Waders and hip- or waist-high waterproof boots are recommended. Wear rubber gloves as well to remove water-damaged possessions and avoid contamination. Throw away any food that has come into contact with floodwaters and if an unfortunate death occurred in the property, you should call a crime scene cleanup company.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

Because you should contact your insurer as soon as possible following the flood, save your insurance company’s and local agent’s phone numbers in your always-ready emergency bag. If a flood has affected a region or neighborhood, your agent may be preoccupied with his or her flood difficulties. In that situation, contact the insurance company’s main office.


Because groundwater flood damage is often not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies, you will need to work together with your insurer to determine the origin of the flood and the scope of your coverage.

Determine if You Are in a Disaster Zone

When a location is formally designated as a “disaster area” by government authorities, property owners can access additional resources to safeguard and remediate the area, including public services. You may also be eligible for financial aid.

Remove Water

Use a sump pump once you’ve received permission from your insurer to remove the water. Keep in mind that water is heavy, with a cubic foot weighing 10 pounds, so take care not to damage yourself, especially if you’re carrying buckets of water up and downstairs. Enable fresh air to circulate by opening doors and windows, as long as this does not allow additional water to enter. If the water can’t be handled by a commercial pump, visit websites like to inquire about their services. 

Reduce Mold Damage

Mold can begin to grow 24 to 48 hours after a flood, so remove moist contents as quickly as possible, especially carpets and beds. It is possible to salvage an object if it has been wet for less than 48 hours. However, you must evaluate whether it has enough monetary or sentimental value to justify the effort. Also, tell your insurance carrier more info before removing goods to ensure that your coverage is not jeopardized. Always take photos of flood-damaged things.


Floods and flash floods can occur in 50 states and are exceedingly dangerous. They are the most prevalent and widespread natural catastrophes, second only to fire; thus, education and planning are critical and help limit losses to a minimum.