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Sunday, February 19, 2017

School Water Damage Recovery

By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff

When water damage occurs in a school building, knowing what to do will save precious time and ultimately minimize losses to property and building contents. After gaining access to the school building following a water damage incident, the following steps should be done:

  • Evaluate the damage to the school building, making sure the assessment is precise and complete as possible.
  • Take careful notes of the damages and, if possible, photograph them. The documentation will be useful in planning and in filing insurance claims.
  • Make sure to report the incident to the school's insurance carrier.
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation inside the school building.
  • Make every effort to reduce moisture and humidity. The school's preparedness plan should have identified sources of water extraction, cleanup and drying equipment and supplies such as pumps, wet-dry vacuums, fans and dehumidifiers.
  • If parts of the roof are missing or if rain is pouring into the building from some other opening in the room, make sure to protect any exposed materials using waterproof covering.

The elected command post should implement all other water disaster response plans as swiftly as possible, including removal of water-damaged items from the building followed by measures to control the environmental aspects inside the school building such as humidity levels.

Preventing Mold and Mildew in Wet Materials

After 48 hours of exposure to water, there is a risk of mold growth in wet materials. To address this problem, which can easily occur in school libraries, all wet materials should be removed from the site immediately to begin the drying process.

As for wet paper materials like textbooks and other publications, there are different drying techniques that can be done, although utmost care is required when handling wet paper since it can tear very easily. Air-drying is usually enough to dry a small quantity of slightly or moderately wet paper materials. However, art books, journals and other materials using coated paper require special care or the pages will stick together permanently.

If there is no appropriate location or big enough space within the school's facility for drying wet paper material or if professional conservation or drying services are necessary but not readily available, then the materials can be frozen at or below 15F to preserve them.

In addition, the temperature in the building must be kept below 70F with a relative humidity level under 70-percent to prevent mildew development. Maintaining and monitoring these conditions over several months, particularly in school libraries, is recommended to ensure there will be no molds and mildew problems.

In conclusion, water damage recovery starts with damage assessment, temporary protection, supervised implementation of emergency plans and ongoing monitoring. Needless to say, the organization and personnel required for such a major restoration effort is critical. The assistance of a professional water damage restoration company would be valuable if prompt action is desired.

Recommended Reading
Consequences of Water Damage in Schools
School Water Damage Preparedness and Education

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