Cleaning up after a flood or other major disaster can pose health risks for you and your family. Always wait to re-enter your home until the professionals tell you it is safe - with no structural or electrical hazards. Before you start disaster cleanup activities, here is what you should know.
Was your home flooded? Was there a fire in your home? Disaster cleanup is a very specialized and detailed process. Here are some steps every homeowner should take:
1. Contact your insurance company
Before you start disaster cleanup activities, make sure you contact your home insurance company. Take pictures of your home and belongings for documentation purposes. It may take several days for the insurance adjuster to come to your home, so make sure you have documentation.
2. Wear Personal Protective Equipment
Remember that if your home was flooded or if there is any type of water damage issue, mold will begin to grow within 24-48 hours. If you were not able to dry your home within that time frame, you should assume you have mold growth. Mold can be visible on clothing, drywall, furniture, books or it may be hidden under/behind carpet, cabinets and walls.
Exposure to mold can lead to eye and skin irritation, allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Before coming into contact with it, make sure you wear a mask (N-95 respirator mask), goggles and protective gloves. Additionally, flood water may have carried sewage or chemicals into your home, which can expose you and your family to viruses, bacteria and parasites. Wearing personal protective equipment is very important to protect your health and your loved ones.
If the job is too difficult or if you don't have the necessary equipment and materials, it may be best to allow the experienced and qualified professionals to inspect, repair and restore the damaged parts of your home.
3. Begin disaster cleanup
After putting on personal protective equipment as described above, make sure to remove standing water and wet materials as quickly as possible. Remember that mold growth WILL occur within 24 - 48 hours. Drying your home and everything inside rapidly is very important.
- Open all doors and windows and allow air flow to all areas.
- Open closet doors, kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity doors.
- As soon as electricity is available, use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture.
-When using a portable generator for electricity, use CAUTION to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and fire. ALWAYS use generator outside and at least 20 feet away from buildings.
- If you use cleaning products, make sure to not mix them together - NEVER mix bleach and ammonia together, as this can create toxic vapors.
-Throw away items that can't be cleaned and dried completely.