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Safety Tips During Post Disaster Cleaning and Flood Restoration

 


After your home has been flooded it is important to clean up as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage to your home and belongings. Residents who have been evacuated should not return home after a flood until cleanup is finished and a supply of safe water and proper disposal of human waste and garbage has been arranged.


When you arrive home, no part of a flooded installation can be assumed safe, not even the main breaker for the power supply. Before electrical equipment is tested or worked on, all power should be disconnected at the service panel with the main switch being left in the "off" position until work has been completed.

Flood waters contain many contaminants and lots of mud. High dollar items can get ruined all at once, even with just an inch of water, for example: carpeting, wallboard, appliances, and furniture. A more severe storm or deeper flood may add damage to even more expensive systems, like: ducts, the heater and air conditioner, roofing, private sewage and well systems, utilities, and the foundation.

Floodwaters are usually very dirty. During a flood, water leaves the normal course of streambeds and washes over the countryside. The floodwaters then come in contact with farmyards, manure piles, refuse heaps, outhouses, overflowing septic systems and other sources of disease, resulting in heavy contamination of the water. The contaminated water can make people sick and items that have been in contact with the floodwaters need to be handled properly. If flooded and damaged areas are not cleaned properly and quickly there is a danger of mould growing. Mould can be harmful to some individuals if inhaled or swallowed.

Be prepared to make difficult decisions about what to keep and what to throw out. Household items that have been contaminated by sewage, or that have been wet for a long time, will have to be bagged, tagged and discarded according to local regulations.


To determine if the outdoor air can help dry the air inside, place a hygrometer in the area to be dried. Let it stabilise then open a window and monitor the Relative Humidity (RH). If it goes down then it means the air is dry enough to assist the drying process. If the RH increases, close the window.

  • Carpets must be dried within two days. Sewage-soaked carpets must be discarded. Homeowners can't effectively dry large areas of soaked carpets themselves. Qualified water damage restoration professionals are required.
  • Ensure that all interior cavities and structural members are completely dry (which could take weeks) before closing cavities.

  • Disinfection of the surfaces must be completed once the cleaning steps above have been completed. When cleaning with a disinfectant be sure to ventilate the room by opening windows and wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves as strong solutions may irritate skin and cause respiratory symptoms.

    Walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water until all visible soil is removed. Once surfaces appear clean disinfect with a solution of 5 ml of household bleach mixed with 1 L of water. Disinfection is recommended because flood waters may be contaminated. Following cleaning it is important that surfaces that have been in contact with flood water are disinfected to remove bacteria and viruses.

     
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