Ask The Experts: Is it dangerous to clean up after a flood?
When flood damage originates from a storm, we usually classify the waters as either gray or black and handle them with safety protocols based on that classification. Whichever category the standing water in your home falls into does not depend solely on the color or visual appearance of the water, but also on the contents of it and any debris contained within. Here is a brief overview of what goes into each classification, and what each one can mean for your home.
Black water is the most severe category of floodwater and is what we deal with most often for cases of flood damage that result from a storm. Black water is any water heavily contaminated with dirt, debris, microorganisms, chemicals, and many more hazardous substances. Most of the time, this type of water should be easy to identify with a dark brown or black color and murky appearance, but heavily contaminated water can sometimes appear gray or even somewhat clear in certain lighting conditions. Wait for a SERVPRO professional to evaluate the situation before you conclude what type of water is in your home. If you do find standing black water anywhere in the building, avoid the room or area in question until one of our technicians can provide you with safety advice. This type of water can be highly dangerous, so be very cautious around it.
Less commonly, SERVPRO technicians may identify floodwaters in your home as gray water, which is a category of water that still contains contaminants but is not as immediately dangerous or severe as black water. However, gray water can still harbor dangerous microorganisms and rapidly develop into black water as these organisms grow and multiply. Be very cautious around all standing water on your property, and avoid entering pools of water without the express permission of our personnel.