Hurricane Sandy: Some Safety Points For Flooded Basements

Originally published Monday, October 29, 2012 At 10:25PM

Flooded crawlspace


As Hurricane Sandy rips through Northern NJ, region wide power outages, storm surge and rainfall are likely to contribute to flooding and water damage in basements.  If your basement is flooded, it is important to take note of these safety points.


1. Standing water in your basement may be electrically charged.  When in doubt, stay out of the water.  Stepping into electrically charged water can be deadly.  Always exercise caution and common sense.

2. Flood water, ground water, and surface water are classified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) as Category 3 water.  Category 3 water is otherwise known as black water.  A more common term for black water is sewage.  Treat it as such.  Always. 

3. Don't try and save your carpet.  If your carpet was affected / damaged by Category 3 water, it is contaminated. Do not try to save it.  Make sure when you are having water damage cleanup contractor performing mitigation services in your basement that they remove all affected carpet and pad.  Don't try to convince them otherwise.

4. If electrical issues have been ruled out, don't stomp around in the basement trying to salvage your things.  This can often be hard to do.  A good way to convince yourself it is not worth it is to "think sewage."  Even if the water is clear, you don't know what is in it.

These are but a few safety issues to keep in mind.  As a general rule, practice "safety first" and remember, if it looks dangerous, it probably is dangerous.  For additional information view the EPA's websites:

by Quentin Unsworth, LEED AP

Quentin is the Owner and COO of Groundswell Contracting operating in Northern NJ.  An owner / operator, he holds the following certifications: BPI Building Analyst, and Envelope Professional; IICRC Water Damage Technician, Applied Structural Drying, Odor, Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Technician.

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