Flooding can cause major damage and lead to long-term issues with your home. While dealing with a flood may seem daunting, there are a few simple steps that you can take in the immediate aftermath to try to mitigate the damage. Here are the first things you should do after a flood:

Check for the extent of the damage

One of the most dangerous parts of flood damage is that it can seriously damage the structure of your home—and it might be difficult to see that damage. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly inspect the foundation and complete structure of your home for cracks, warping, holes, or loosened building material.

It’s also important to check for damaged pipes, electrical systems, sewer lines, etc. If you think that any of these parts of your home are damaged, you can contact your local utility company to come to your home to take a look. It’s also a good idea to turn your power off if there is still standing water in your home. Even if the storm that flooded your home caused a power outage in your area, power may return at any time and you don’t want that to happen when you still have standing water in your home.

Call your insurance company

If you do see damage in your home from flooding, call your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim. Depending on weather or not your have flood insurance, you’ll have to work with your insurance agent to find out how much of the damage is covered. And take as many pictures of you can just in case you need to reference them later.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t start to do any repairs until you’ve spoken with your agent. They’ll be able to let you know whether or not you should wait to do the repairs until an insurance adjuster comes over to see the damage. And make sure to document your conversations and progress every step of the way when you’re dealing with your insurance company.

Remove the water

After you’ve received the go ahead from your insurance company, you can start to remove the water from your home. Remember that floodwater contains a lot of contaminants, so when you begin to do this make sure to take the proper precautions. That means wearing a mask, rubber gloves, and rubber boots to make sure that any contaminants in the water, as well as those that are airborne, won’t get you sick.

Use sump pumps to pump the water out of your home (they can be purchased or rented from most hardware stores), and a shovel for any mud or sediment that may have collected in your home. Finally, use a wet vac to clean up any remaining water that the pumps didn’t take care of.

Clean up and prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately

Clean the surfaces in your home with a heavy-duty disinfectant, and then follow that up with a bleach/water mixture to make sure that you kill all of the contaminants mentioned above.

Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, so it’s important to remove any wet contents from your home immediately. The cleaning solution that you use to clean your home may stop mold from forming on solid surfaces, but things like bedding and towels can be harder to clean. If you get them cleaned and dried in less than 48 hours, however, they may be salvageable. Similarly, rugs—something that you’ll most likely have to have professionally cleaned because of their size—can also be salvaged if you act quickly.