Flooding can occur after a heavy rain, appliance malfunction, or plumbing leak. Quick action is required to avoid potential health issues.
10 Guidelines for Safe Cleanup After Indoor Flooding
1. Understand that time is crucial. Mold grows within 24-48 hours.
2. Record details of damage with photographs or videos.
3. Prepare for difficult decisions. Border on the side of caution.
4. Keep children and pets away from flooded areas. Those entering the site should wear protective gear such as N95 respirator mask, gloves, and goggles.
5. Recognize mold. Look for discolored walls or ceilings. Check for foul odors. Does the area smell musty? (Read more about the hazards of mold growth here.)
6. Dry out the building. Open doors and windows when possible. Use fans. See the CDC’s fact sheet Reentering Your Flooded Home.
7.When in doubt, take it out! Discard porous items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried.
8. Pay close attention to and prepare to discard the following: carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, mattresses, clothing, paper, wood, and food.
9. Discard contaminated building materials including drywall, insulation, wood flooring.
10. Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with hot water and soap. There are varied opinions regarding the use of bleach. All agree that bleach must never be combined with ammonia as toxic fumes will be released. It is important to note that while bleach does kill bacteria and viruses, it does not kill mold; it merely takes away the color. Other cleaning agents include white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, borax, tea tree oil, and liquid detergents.
Helpful Online Resources
- National Center for Healthy Homes’ publication Creating a Healthy Home: A Field Guide for Clean-Up of Flooded Homes
- Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Eradicating Mold and Mildew