A flood can be a devastating event that can cause significant trauma to you and your family. One of the most difficult parts about a flooded home is that it’s only after the waters recede that the real work begins. If you don’t properly clean your home, you could be left with lingering side effects that could put your health in danger. To ensure your family stays healthy, here are a few things that you need to know about decontaminating your home after a flood.
Protective Gear is Crucial
Floodwater can contain a lot of nasty chemicals and germs. The last thing you want is to expose yourself to those germs in the process of decontaminating your home. Therefore, proper protective gear is crucial throughout the entire decontamination process. This includes waterproof boots, gloves, and a respirator, among other items. Even though this gear can make it more difficult to work, your health will thank you in the long run.
Be sure to keep young children, pets, and people with underlying health conditions out of the area. Their exposure to the germs or mold present could cause serious illness. If you have a serious health condition, consider hiring an outside company instead to come and do the clean up for you. They will be trained in proper cleaning techniques and will do the best job possible to ensure the areas cleanliness, hygiene, and safety.
It’s a Multi-Layer Process
Even if the surfaces that you can see are dry, it is likely that far more damage still exists in your home. That’s why it’s important to remove all soft materials down to the studs at the waterline and below. This process is best completed by an emergency water damage restoration company to ensure you remove anything that could potentially be contaminated so that you don’t risk mold growth down the road.
If the flooded area was carpeted, you will first need to remove the wet carpet. Underneath you will need to check the carpet pad. If it is even a little bit wet, it is likely that the carpet pad will need to be replaced unless you can dry it out completely very quickly. If underneath the carpet pad you have concrete, you will not have to worry too much about mold and other germs growing there. Do be sure to sanitize the area and dry it out before replacing the carpet though.
Patience is Key
Once you have the soft materials removed, you still need to give the space plenty of time to dry. You’d be surprised at how long it takes for things like wood studs to dry when they’ve been exposed to floodwater for a few hours or days. Using industrial-sized fans can greatly help in this process as it moves air around the room to force it into hard-to-reach areas. This is also a good time to have windows open to allow fresh air in to help remove any mildew spores that are floating in the air. As difficult as it may be in the hot summer or freezing winter months, you may want to consider turning off your HVAC unit while the area is drying out. Having the unit on can spread mold spores throughout the house, which can cause irritation or allergies for you and other members of your household.
Keep a Close Eye
After you’ve completed your post-flood repairs, it’s important to keep a close eye on the areas in your home that were exposed to floodwater. You’ll want to check daily for any sign of mold growth or other contamination that may have been missed when you were cleaning the space. After a few weeks, if you don’t see any sign of change, you can reduce the frequency at which you check for any problems, keeping in mind to check at least once a month thereafter.
As important as it is to remove any contaminated materials as soon as possible, it’s also important to pace yourself throughout the process. After all, you’ve recently gone through a traumatic event, so it’s important to let yourself recover mentally even as you’re recovering physically. This will help prevent a burnout that could bring the repair process to a halt.