When the rain stops and the water subsides, flood victims can follow a few simple steps to reduce property damage and limit health risks. Here are some tips we adapted from the nonprofit Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.
When rising water breeches the natural boundaries of rivers, streams, and other bodies of water it flows across the ground picking up all kinds of contamination. The water can be contaminated with soil bacteria, decaying insects, animal droppings, oils and fluids from roadways, and fertilizers and pesticides from fields or gardens. Avoid it as much as possible.
1. Be careful entering buildings
Make sure the electrical power is off and the structure is sound before entering and inspecting a flooded building. Small animals or reptiles may also seek shelter inside a structure, so be cautious if you’re repositioning contents or removing materials.
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2. Wear protection
Wear an organic vapor respirator, available from paint or building supply stores, along with rubber gloves, eye protection, and protective clothing. Ventilate affected areas by opening windows, and eventually, by placing a fan in a window. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.
3. Know what to throw away.
Don’t try to restore porous items that contain contaminated flood water. In most cases, throw out any wet drywall, carpeting, carpet pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs, and particle board.
4. Try to save wet clothing and household fabrics.
Clothing and fabrics like drapes may be salvageable. Try washing them and including at least a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water. That often removes most contamination and stains.
5. Open pockets of saturation.
Look behind areas where water has probably entered. Remove base molding and portions of damaged walls and wet insulation. Locate the water line and measure 15 inches to 20 inches above it. Everything below that line should be removed and discarded. Remove flooring (like hardwood, laminate, or sheet vinyl) so you can expose pockets of saturation underneath. Clean, sanitize, and dry those areas.
6. Clean aggressively.
Clean wall cavities and exposed durable materials (studs, joists) by pressure washing with detergent solutions. After thoroughly cleaning and flushing salvageable materials, apply a disinfectant solution liberally. That will help get rid of any bacteria that might have come up through sewers, toilets, and from other places. Use a non-toxic but powerful disinfectant. Be sure to disinfect all affected areas including walls, wood, and non-upholstered furniture that sat in the flood water. A water and flood restoration professional like SERVPRO Bloomfield Enfield may be needed to perform this service safely and effectively.
7. Prevent mold growth.
You may not see it at first, but mold will appear in a few days. Mold thrives in a moist environment with organic material like paper or particle board and with temperatures between 68°F and 86°F. To keep mold from growing, keep the air moving and maintain moderate temperatures as much as possible.
8. Dry out before you rebuild.
To prevent dry rot and on-going structural damage, don't reconstruct or cover wood materials until its moisture content falls below 16 percent. Moisture meters are available online, but it may be best to hire a water restoration professional like SERVPRO Bloomfield Enfield to confirm proper drying before reconstruction. You want to dry everything out as soon as possible.
9. Consider hiring a professional.
A professional water damage restoration company has trained technicians, specialized cleaners and antimicrobial agents, and extraction, drying, dehumidifying and moisture measuring equipment.
We’re here to help. The team at SERVPRO Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized water damage cleanup training and experience to quickly clean and restore your commercial building, home, or property. So call SERVPRO Bloomfield/Enfield (860.216.2785) anytime, 24/7.
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