Residential disasters, tips to help mitigate the damage

May 09, 2019

The news is full of disasters and climate change environmental doomsday predictions. We start to think earthquake, tornado, or hurricane or another "natural" disaster. But if you have ever lived through a more localized disaster such as a water, fire or vandal damage to your home, you have experienced a disaster. Following the Boy Scouts motto:  Be prepared is simple, but not easy advice. Begin planning for an emergency long before it happens. 

Common residential disasters -even when small- can create a lot of damage and usually require restoration are: 

  • Water:  from broken pipes, sewage backups, overland flooding, rain and snow flooding.
  • Fire & Smoke: small or large fires pose many risks. Smoke damage can often render buildings inhabitable during remediation. 
  • Vandalism:  thieves are not always tidy and can wreak havoc. Causing costly damages in addition to stolen property. 
  • Mould, Asbestos & Lead: Environmental problems such as asbestos, mould, lead can be invisible, but create very unhealthy living environments and can be dangerous to remove. Asbestos removal should always be left to the professionals. 
  • Grow-op Abatement: often landlords face the challenges of properties that have been contaminated by chemicals and mold related to illegal drug operations. 
  • Wind & Storm: usually caused by high winds fallen trees and other flying debris can cause structural damage to homes. 
  • Trauma Incidents:  This involves the cleanup and removal of blood and bodily fluids. 

Preventative maintenance can provide a much better and quicker restoration outcome. One company that Reliance Insurance works with is CJB Restoration.  We caught up with Wes Williams, the owner of CJB to get the inside scoop on what is the top recommended  preventative measures to follow before a disaster happens. 

CJB recommends following some easy to implement steps, which can help mitigate the extent of the damage and the time it takes to complete a restoration. 

Water Damage

Top tips for preventing water damage: 

  • Know where all water shut off valves are throughout the home.
  • Do not run the washer or dishwasher when you are not at home. 
  • Inspect all toilets for leaks. Specifically, look at the supply lines for age, wear and leaks. If there is any sign of leaking water around the base turn the water value off. 
  • Inspect other water related appliances such as fridges and dishwashers. Ensure hoses and water makers are working properly. 
  • Make sure all drains both inside and outside of the house are free and clear for proper function and operation.
  • Inspect gutters and make sure they are clear of debris and downpipes are connected properly. 
  • During the colder months make sure both eavestroughs and downspouts are free of ice and debris to avoid ice damming.
  • During the colder months make sure all water is shut off to outside hose bibs.

View and inspect the hot water tank

  • A water tank older than 7 years should be inspected regularly for leaks and stains. 
  • If a water tank does not have a drip tray, have one installed with a run-off to a floor drain. 
  • look at the pressure relief valve (PR Valve) for proper function and operation. This valve automatically opens if the pressure in the tank exceeds the allowable limit.

Fire damage 

Fire is devastating and can very quickly decimate an entire home. The best prevention is to ensure you home is clear of major fire hazards

  • Have your electrical inspected prior to purchase of a new home.
  • Ensure smoke detectors work and test regularly. 
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use. 
  • Clean the dryer lint filter out regular basis and have your dryer vent system cleaned by a professional at least once a year.  


Often when a break and enter occurs, it is not about the stolen goods but the damage done while thieves are looking for valuables. They are just looking to get in and out in a hurry, and often create costly damage then the value of the stolen goods.  


Biohazards can occur at any time, historically or can be the result of another catastrophic event.  Proper detection of biohazards is critical as it can help prevent serious health risks. When buying a property have a house inspection prior to purchase, enquire about year built and what materials were used if this is known, have an air quality test done if you are someone who is sick or has severe allergies. Dig a bit deeper and see what the history of the property was for the land and ownership. If you are a landlord inspect your properties on a regular basis according to the law. Items to look for

  • Construction that may include lead and asbestos 
  • Signs of mildew and mold
  • Signs of a grow op or other illegal drug manufacturing
  • Vermin infestation (mice, rats, bats, raccoons, squirrels)

 Protect your valuables before the disaster

Over time we often become complacent about our valuables - not just jewelry, art and fine wine, but photos, important documents and family mementoes.  Here is a checklist to help keep your most precious belongings safe from fire, flood and vandalism:

1. Keep an inventory of your belongings.

2. Keep a photocopy or digital record of your important papers such as passports, birth certificates, taxes, credit cards and store these in a safe deposit box at a bank. 

3.  If you are in a flood or high fire risk area, take photos and make photo books of your children's' art, most treasured photos and family heirlooms.  Store a copy with a family member or friend (or put one in the safety deposit box).

4. For items you need on a regular basis - such as a passport if you travel frequently, get a small fireproof safe and lock your valuables up at home. 

5. Store paper valuables off the floor or in a water proof bin. As water damage is one of the major causes of insurance claims, this small step can help save important documents, books or other paper valuables.

Reliance Insurance is known for its exceptional claims service. Our designated Claims Advocate will help navigate the process from disaster recovery and restoration to getting you back into your property as soon as possible. We value our relationships with the experts at CJB who help us, help our clients get back to normal after a disaster.  

 "Our recommendation is to call a restoration company right after you have called your insurance provider. We often work in tandem to get the restoration started  with the best claims coverage based on the insurance policy. Quick response is also key to preventing further damage.Wes Williams, Owner CJB


CJB Restoration

BC Minister of Public Safety:  A Guide to Disaster Recovery

HouseLogic:  What to do in the First 24 Hours After a Flood

City of Vancouver:  What to do After a Fire or Other Emergency Incident

Additional Blog Topics

Climate Related Disasters

Protect Your Home From Costly Break-ins

Smart Tips on Basement Flooding Protection



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