The First 24 Hours: Critical Steps for Water Damage Recovery

Brad Smith
Written By Brad Smith

When water damage strikes, the first 24 hours are crucial for mitigating damage, preventing further losses, and beginning the recovery process. Acting quickly can save valuable belongings, reduce the risk of mold, and preserve the structural integrity of your home. This guide outlines the essential steps you should take including consulting experts from sources like, within the first day after experiencing water damage.

critical steps for water damage recovery

Immediate Response: Safety First

Ensure Safety: The very first priority is ensuring the safety of everyone in the household. If necessary, evacuate the premises, especially if there is a risk of structural damage or electrical hazards. Always avoid contact with standing water that may be electrically charged from nearby power sources.

Shut Off Power and Water: If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity and water supplies to prevent further hazards and damage. This is particularly important if the water damage is near electrical appliances or outlets.

Assessment: Understanding the Extent of Damage

Inspect the Damage: Once it’s safe, inspect the affected areas to understand the extent of water penetration. Look for water sources and assess whether it is clean water (from rain or leaks), grey water (from appliances, tubs, sinks), or black water (sewage or contaminated water).

Document Everything: Take photos and videos of the damage for insurance purposes. Documenting everything before you start cleaning up is crucial for filing an accurate insurance claim.

Mitigation: Preventing Further Damage

Start Removing Water: Use buckets, towels, wet/dry vacuums, or pumps to begin removing standing water. The sooner you can get water out, the less damage it will cause.

Move Belongings: Remove furniture, rugs, and movable items to a dry area to help them dry out faster and to prevent further damage. If furniture is too heavy to move, place wood blocks or aluminum foil under legs to prevent direct contact with wet carpets or floors.

Drying Out: Critical to Preventing Mold

Circulate Air: Open windows and doors to allow air circulation if the weather permits. This helps in reducing moisture and drying out the premises faster. Use fans and dehumidifiers to aid in the drying process.

Focus on Hidden Moisture: Check under carpets and behind walls for moisture. These hidden damp areas are prime spots for mold growth. If you suspect hidden moisture, consider hiring professionals who have tools like moisture meters or thermal imaging to detect wet spots.

Clean-Up: Sanitizing and Cleaning

Disinfect: After the area is dry, clean and disinfect all surfaces to prevent mold and bacteria growth. This includes flooring, walls, and furniture.

Check for Mold: Be vigilant for indications of mold in the coming days and weeks. Early detection is key to preventing a small mold issue from becoming a major problem.

Consultation: When to Call Professionals

Assess the Need for Professional Help: If the damage is extensive or if you suspect serious structural or electrical issues, it’s prudent to call professional restoration services. Professionals have the necessary expertise and equipment to handle significant water damage more effectively.

Contact Your Insurance Company: Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with the documentation you’ve gathered and discuss the next steps. They may also recommend approved water damage restoration providers.

Long-Term Recovery and Prevention

Review and Repair: After recovery, review what caused the damage and take steps to prevent future incidents. This might involve fixing or upgrading plumbing, improving drainage, or waterproofing areas that are susceptible to water damage.

Preventive Measures: Regularly check your home for signs of leaks, wear on plumbing fixtures, and other potential water hazards. Consider installing water detection sensors in areas prone to water damage.

While water damage can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, taking prompt, decisive action within the first 24 hours can significantly mitigate the damage. By focusing on safety, quick mitigation, and effective drying, you can protect your property, prevent further damage, and pave the way for a smoother recovery process.

smith brad omni

Written by Brad Smith

CEO & Lead Interior Designer

Brad Smith is an experienced interior designer and the founder of With a Master's degree in Interior Design from Pratt Institute and a passion for creating safe and healthy living spaces, Brad shares his expert insights and innovative design ideas with our readers. His work is driven by the belief that home is where every story begins.