Category 1 Water – Refers to a source of water that does not pose substantial threat to humans and classified as “Clean Water“. Examples are broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows or appliance malfunctions that involves water supply lines.
The hazard here is water soaking into wood furniture items, affecting electronics on the ground, paper products affected by the water, artwork or photography, etc. If the water came out hot, the steam can cause damages above the watermark or where water had directly affected the contents. If the water is introduced to open chemicals or contaminates within the structure, it can make the water exponentially more harmful to contents and those who come in contact with it.
In the case of a Category 1 water loss, the ideal situation would be to remove the contents from the water asap to ensure minimal damage to the items. This can be as simple as clearing floor contents to a non-affected area and propping the furniture up onto risers to ensure they are no longer sitting in the water. It is advised to keep the furniture in the affected area, on risers, while the dehumidifiers are performing the drying of the room/ structure. This will allow the contents to dry in-place which provides a better situation for damage analysis when items need to be removed.
Without taking the appropriate measures and removing any hazardous or delicate contents from the environmental influence, the items can be further damaged and become non-salvageable. If the items sit for an extended period of time and are not correctly addressed, mold can develop and cause additional environmental hazards.
Category 2 Water – Refers to a source of water that contains a significant degree of chemical, biological or physical contaminants and causes discomfort or sickness when exposed or even consumed. Known as “Grey Water“. This type carries micro organisms and nutrients of micro organisms. Examples are toilet bowls with urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic failure and water discharge from dishwashers or washing machines.
In the instance of Category 2 water, there is a serious necessity to make sure items are properly handled and cleaned to ensure there is no instances of cross-contamination. If the items sit too long in the area the affected water can discolor them or cause irreparable damage. With the presence of harmful micro-organisms, there is a higher likelihood of mold and other bacteria growing as well.
In the event of a category 2 water loss, it is necessary to remove the contents from the water as soon as possible. This instance would recommend a manipulation of the items from the affected area to an onsite cleaning station. An anti-bacterial wiping is performed to ensure the microbial organisms are killed as soon as they leave the environment. It is then that then proper handling, cleaning and storage is performed until the structural environment is cleaned and sanitized. It is crucial that the items are wiped with anti-microbial solution immediately after removing from the affected area to ensure that there is as minimal cross-contamination as possible. If the homeowner/ property manager comes in contact with the category 2 water during the incident, it is highly advised that they stay aware of what they are touching and not to expose the bacteria to the soft tissue, openings on their body. A thorough scrubbing of all body parts that came into contact with the water should be performed as soon as possible.
Without proper and timely attention to Category 2 water “grey water”, it can become contaminated by additional items in the household and become a category 3 “black-water” situation. In the event of a “black-water” loss, it is advised to dispose of all contents that are porous, leaving a rare few amount of personal possessions to be salvageable. If the contents are not handled by Contents Specialists, then it is advised to dispose of all affected items as a general contractor or homeowner will not have the training/ equipment to correctly clean the contents to prevent re-contamination/ cross-contamination.
Category 3 Water – Known as “Black Water” and is highly unsanitary. This water contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness. Type 3 category are contaminated water sources that affects the indoor environment. This category includes water sources from sewage, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water. Category 2 Water or Grey Water that is not promptly removed from the structure and or have remained stagnant may be re classified as Category 3 Water. Toilet back flows that originates from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination regardless of visible content or colors.
The hazard here is that there is bacteria-filled sewage-water contaminating the contents/ personal affects of the location. In this instance, there is very little that can be done to save the porous items from your property. Very few items, in a normal property, are non-porous enough to ensure that the proper cleaning techniques will return them to a sanitary state.
In this occurrence, removing yourself from the property is the number 1 concern. Be mindful of what articles of clothing touch the contaminated water and correct remove and dispose of them to prevent cross-contamination. If you walk through the affected area and into an unaffected area, you have now contaminated that area. Contents-wise, there needs to be a serious analysis of affected items, a non-salvageable list or “Total Loss Inventory” will be generated to ensure the damaged items are re-compensated to the policy-holder by the insurance carrier.
If appropriate analyses, identification of salvageable items and documentation of non-salvageable items is not taken care of in a timely manner, there is a high likelihood that all contents types will be non-salvageable. Furthermore, if documentation isn’t properly performed for all of the affected items, there is a large likelihood that items will be forgotten and the insured will not be re-compensated for items not on the list. If the items are attempted to be handled personally, there is a serious risk of infection and bodily injury