How to Clean Up your Home After a Flood/Hurricane/Natural Disaster

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How to Clean Up your Home After a Flood/Hurricane/Natural Disaster

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 04:33 AM PDT



Entry #632, August 28, 2011

With the onset of hurricane season, and Hurricane Irene becoming a historical storm threatening over 2.2 million people in the south and northeastern U.S., the reality of what your home will look like after the storm is a concern to many. Living in Jacksonville, Florida, we have become accustomed to hurricanes, but no one can ever prepare for what they may face at their home after returning from an evacuation.

Hurricane Flood Katrina

Know what to expect after a natural disaster – Hurricane Katrina

I have compiled a list of resources and important information to help you and your family clean up after a flood or hurricane. Even if you haven’t been effected by a hurricane or natural disaster, these tips are helpful to know in advance. As the United States has seen in the last week, there is no such thing as “My part of the country doesn’t get that type of natural disaster!”

Flood Cleanup Resources

Flood Cleanup – source EPA

During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.

For basic information on how to clean up after a flood and how to prevent indoor air problems – download the flood_booklet here.


Mother Nature can wreak havoc on your home

Returning Home after a Natural Disaster

Source – One Storm

Download the returning home after a natural disaster booklet here

Reentering Buildings

  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures until they have been examined and certified as safe by a building inspector or other government authority. You may want to wait to return to buildings during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off and you have no lights.
  • Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal that the structure may fall or if you smell gas or suspect a leak. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.

General Safety Measures

  • Have at least two fire extinguishers, each with a UL rating of at least 10A, at every cleanup job.
  • Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank) for cleanup work.
  • Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.
  • Use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person).
  • When using a chain saw, operate the saw according to the manufacturer’s instructions, wear appropriate protective equipment, avoid contact with power lines, be sure that bystanders are at a safe distance, and take extra care in cutting trees or branches that have gotten bent or caught under another object. Use extreme caution to avoid electrical shock when using an electric chain saw. For tips on safely operating a chain saw, see “Preventing Chain Saw Injury During Tree Removal.”
  • If there has been a backflow of sewage into your house, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of the affected area.
  • In hot weather, try to stay cool by staying in air-conditioned buildings, taking breaks in shaded areas or in cool rooms, drinking water and nonalcoholic fluids often, and wearing light and loose-fitting clothing. Do outdoor activities during cooler hours. For more information on protecting yourself against heat-related illness, see the CDC Extreme Heat website.
hurricane survival kit

Ensure you have a emergency survival kit for after the storm

Cleanup Efforts

Source – Chiff

These tips from Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores will help you get busy with the clean-up and started on the way to returning to your normal life:
•    Keep battery-powered radios or televisions at hand for important flood or power updates
•    Check the home’s exterior and hose down debris and mud left by floodwater
Open interior doors with caution – doors that stick at the top could indicate a ceiling ready to fall.
•    Use fans, dehumidifiers and products such as calcium chloride pellets and cat litter to get rid of excess moisture.
•    Remove wet wallpaper – damp wallpaper paste is a prime location for mold to grow.
•    Ask a contractor or building inspector to check for mold damage after a flood.
•    Scrub all interior surfaces that were in contact with flood waters with bleach or a household disinfectant containing bleach.

For natural disaster information for your local area, check with disaster relief entities. In the United States – The Red Cross is a great resource.

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