The rain will return this fall, and downpours can quickly flood your basement and create a real mess. Wading through soggy boxes of books, soaking carpeting, floating dog food bowls and sopping sofas, you might feel paralyzed as to what to do.

But don’t delay. Experts say you should act quickly to mop up water and repair damage caused by clogged drains, faulty sump pumps or backed-up gutters. Mold can start to grow within a couple of days. And you’ll want to retrieve damp possessions and dry them out as soon as possible.

For safety, call your power company, an electrician or a professional flood cleanup company if you have a large amount of standing water in your basement. You may have to disconnect the service before walking into the water. Don’t touch anything electrical.

Here are five tips for dealing with water in your basement.

Remove the water

Get water out as soon as possible. A few inches of standing water can usually be removed with a wet vac. If you don’t have a wet vac, buy, borrow or rent one. Major water damage may need a professional such as Servpro or ServiceMaster. If your damage is minor, you can use towels to wipe the water up, but they should immediately be washed and dried to prevent mold from growing.

Dry it out

Use dehumidifiers and fans to move air around, discouraging the growth of mold and mildew. Keep dehumidifiers at least 6 to 8 inches away from walls for the best air circulation. Clean and wash their filters once every week or so to help the fan operate efficiently. Run your air conditioning constantly. Throw away any wet boxes.

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Scrub the flooring

Vinyl tile, linoleum and other hard surfaces can be scrubbed with a solution of no more than 1 cup of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. During this process, wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear and keep the room ventilated.

Examine and clear gutters, downspouts and drains

Put on your rubber gloves and check the basement steps and drains. Get rid of any leaves, twigs and mud. Remove the drain screen and give it a good cleaning and, if necessary, use a plunger or plumber’s snake to clear the drain. Muck out gutters and downspouts around the house.

Freeze your assets

If valuable documents or cherished papers were dampened, you might try quickly putting them in the freezer. This may stop mildew growth and deterioration until you can attend to them later. Resolve not to store anything of value in the basement and to use concrete blocks to keep possessions off the floor. Plastic storage bins are far better than cardboard boxes for basement use.