If you and your home are the victims of a flood, your cleanup must be thorough to ensure that mold growth is eliminated to the greatest extent possible. You should completely dry wet structures as soon as possible after the event. However, while you want to act quickly, approach the cleanup process carefully, to avoid the mishaps and accidents that can occur in the less-than-safe environment that a flooded home can be.
The following tips, courtesy of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, can help you to thoroughly clean up while protecting your own health and safety:
• Keep children and pets out of the area until you have completely cleaned it.
• Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles during cleanup.
• Discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected, including mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam rubber items, books, wall coverings and paper products.
• Discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood water.
• Clean all hard surfaces such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
• Use fans, air conditioning units and dehumidifiers to help dry the area.
• Wash your hands with soap and water after you have finished cleaning. Use water that has been boiled for one minute and then cooled. You can also disinfect water for personal hygiene by creating a solution of household bleach mixed with water.
• Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent, separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens. Use a self-service laundry for washing large quantities of clothes and linens until your onsite wastewater system has been professionally inspected and serviced.
• Get immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.
If you need to turn off the main power and have standing water inside your home, remember to do so only when you are in a dry location. If you must enter standing water to reach the main power switch, call an electrician to turn it off. Never use an electric tool or appliance to turn off power while standing in water. Be sure the electrician checks the house’s electrical system before turning on the power.
If the house has been closed up for several days, enter only long enough to open doors and windows, and then leave them open for at least 30 minutes before you stay inside for any length of time. This allows potentially hazardous air to circulate out of the rooms, while letting fresh air inside.
As always, don’t hesitate to call a qualified professional for advice and/or help with the cleanup process.