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With the influx of rain and snow from winter weather, your home may become at risk for water damage. This can be caused by flooding, a leak in the roof, or a broken rain gutter.

If your home suffers any water damage, it’s important to reach out to a disaster recovery specialist to make sure the damage is properly taken care of. However, it may take time for a specialist to arrive, especially if the flooding is widespread with many homeowners seeking intervention for water damage.

While you wait your turn, there are things that you can do to help prepare your home for the specialist to arrive. If you respond promptly and start the restoration process as much as you can before specialists arrive, you can help prevent further damages, including mold.

Here are some things you can do while you wait for help to arrive:

Get safety gear — When you’re cleaning up water damage, there are a lot of things that can be damaging to your health, including mold and bacteria. Before you clean anything, make sure you are properly equipped with masks and gloves. Once you’re adequately protected, you can begin going through your belongings and salvaging whatever you can.

Remove water and dry out your house — If there is a small amount of water in your home, you can remove it yourself before professionals arrive. However, if there is more water than you can handle, you might have to wait. Once water is removed, get air flowing through the space. Most bacteria and mold begin forming in homes within the first two to three days following the damage. While this depends on a lot of factors, getting your home as dry as possible before bacteria and mold will help restoration crews more in the long run. If there is minimal damage, you can start by drying off the affected area with box fans and dehumidifiers.

Remove damaged items — You can help by removing damaged items from your home and putting them outside or placing them in a storage unit. If items are out before specialists arrive, they can start working on restoring the structure and carpets in your home quicker. The belongings that have been damaged by water should be taken out of the house and kept in a safe place outside. Sorting out and cleaning the damaged items could take time. You could attend to those things later after you have completed the cleanup inside the house.

Disinfect as you clean — Once water and damaged items are removed from your home, you should start cleaning. Use chemical cleaners to disinfect all affected areas in the house. Make sure you go over the affected areas multiple times. Doing so will help safeguard the health of your family.

While doing these tasks will help keep your home in the best condition possible, your work won’t be able to replace the work of a professional team. However, your progress can be an important supplement to the efforts of trained disaster recovery specialists.