Even the most vigilant homeowner can’t guard against every eventuality, and it could happen to you: flooding, water damage, and property loss. As devastating as the experience can be, there’s no time to feel sorry for yourself. Take action immediately with these tips for restoring your home after a flood.

Protect Yourself First

Once you discover the water, take some precautionary measures. Turn off the electricity until a professional tells you that you can turn it back on. If you want to try to save some items, wear protective clothing like rubber boots and gloves. In some cases, it’s best to leave your home until restoration gets underway.

Inform Your Insurance Company

This is what you pay them for, and it’s time for them to come through. Whether the problem results from leaking pipes, stormwater, sewer backup, or some other cause, they can advise you on the steps you need to take. Take photos of the damage and write notes on the value of items you must discard. An adjuster will make an appointment to assess the situation. If they tell you that your policy doesn’t cover flooding, you probably won’t renew that policy.

Remove Standing Water

Contacting a professional water removal service is usually the most effective response to flooding, but you can pitch in before they arrive. Time is of the essence because water can seep further into the home’s foundation. Sweep the water outside if you can or use buckets to bail it. A wet-dry vacuum can pump out up to ten gallons a minute; borrow one from a neighbor or rent one.

Circulate Dry Air

Once you’ve thrown out the rugs and carpet and removed the water, it’ll take a while to thoroughly dry the area. Do all you can to decrease humidity levels with air conditioning, open windows, and fans. Depending on how deep the moisture has penetrated, you might face more surprises: disease-causing pathogens and mosquitos, weakened wallboards and ceilings, corrosion in the electrical system, and more.

Test for the Presence of Mold

Mold can begin to grow and spread within 48 hours of a flood. Soon, the mold’s reproductive spores will be airborne, and it can cause respiratory problems. Then, you won’t just need tips for restoring your home after a flood—you’ll need tips for restoring your health, too. You can tackle some mold yourself if you exercise caution. In most cases, though, you’ll want to call remediation specialists who can test the air and surfaces to identify the species of mold. Mold can lurk in the walls, too. If you want your home to survive the flood intact, it’s worth it to get those expert opinions.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.