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After a natural disaster, the first thing you should do is assess the damage to your home and belongings. If flooding has occurred, it’s important to act quickly to save as much as you can. But what should you save first?

Tips in Deciding Which Items to Save First

  • Start with sentimental items. If you have time, rescue items with sentimental value first. These could be family heirlooms, photos, or other keepsakes.
  • Focus on valuable items. Items like jewelry, electronics, and important documents should be high on your list. Even if they’re not irreplaceable, they likely have a significant monetary value.
  • Save what you can. If time is running out, don’t worry about sorting through everything. Just grab whatever you can and get to safety. You can sort through your belongings later when you have more time. Click here for more information about water damage.

What to Keep

1. Furniture

Since furniture is expensive to replace right away, try to salvage as much as possible. Upholstered furniture can usually be cleaned and deodorized if it has been soaked in water. Wood furniture may need to be refinished if it has sustained water damage, but it can be salvaged if the damage is not too severe. However, if the wood is warped or the upholstery is torn, it is best to replace it.

2. Appliances

If your appliances are still working, you may be able to salvage them. However, if they have been submerged in water, it is best to replace them. Call a professional to properly clean and deodorize your appliances to prevent mold and mildew from growing. They can also assess the damage and tell you if your appliances are safe to use.

3. Carpeting

Carpeting that floodwaters have soaked is difficult to clean and disinfect and is also a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Roll up the carpet and set it in the sun to dry. Once it’s dry, you can vacuum it and treat it with a disinfectant solution. 

It’s always safe to get rid of it if it has been contaminated with sewage. Contact a professional carpet cleaner if you’re not sure what to do.

4. Photo Albums and Books

If the photo album is made of paper, there’s a good chance it can be saved. If the photos are stuck to the pages, gently separate them and let them dry separately. If the photos are wrinkled, you can try ironing them on a low setting. You can put them back in the album once they’re dry. It might be harder to restore if the photo album is made of cloth or other materials.

On the other hand, books can usually be restored if they’re made of paper. Gently brush off any mud or dirt and let them dry separately. Once they’re dry, you can flatten them out with a heavy book or put them under something heavy overnight.

5. Baby Clothes and Toys

Baby clothes made of silk, wool, and polyester can usually be restored if they’re soaked with floodwater since they can resist mold and mildew. Wash them in a bleach solution and let them air dry.

Toys made of plastic can also be cleaned and disinfected with a bleach solution. If they’re soaked with sewage, it’s best to get rid of them.

6. Documents

If your documents, such as birth certificates, passports, and social security cards, have been soaked in floodwater, you’ll need to dry them as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to put them in a freezer. Once they’re frozen, you can thaw them out slowly by putting them in a bowl of cool water. Once they’re thawed out, you can dry them with a hairdryer on the lowest setting.

What if your documents are wrinkled? You can try to flatten them out by putting them under something heavy overnight. If they’re still wrinkled, you can take them to a professional to have them restored.

7. Electronics

Many electronics are expensive to replace, so you may want to try to salvage them if they’ve been soaked in floodwater. You should turn off the power and remove the batteries first. Then, let the electronics air dry. If possible, disassemble them and let each piece air dry separately. Once they’re dry, you can clean them with a disinfectant solution.

If you’re unsure of what to do, bring it to a professional immediately to check if it can be repaired.

8. Jewelry

If your jewelry has been soaked in floodwater, you’ll need to clean it as soon as possible. First, gently brush off any mud or dirt and let the jewelry soak in a bowl of cool water. Then, wash it in your sink with mild soap and cool water. Dry it with a soft cloth. You must take it to a professional to have it cleaned and inspected for damage.

What Not to Keep

These items should not be kept for home restoration after a disaster:

  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Linens
  • Plastic items
  • Leather items
  • Warped hardwood furniture
  • Cosmetics
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Upholstered furniture

What Are the Exemptions?

Some items above may be exempt from the lists above if they have sentimental value or are otherwise irreplaceable. In these cases, you may want to take extra care to restore them. On the other hand, furniture that can be replaced may not be worth trying to restore.

In the end, it’s ultimately up to you to decide what’s worth keeping and what isn’t. When in doubt, look for a professional water damage restoration company to help you make the best decisions for your home. They have the experience and knowledge to help you through this difficult time.

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