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During a flood clean up, 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. Using a dehumidification and ventilation system like EZ Breathe to remove moisture and contaminents is a great way to avoid these problems..
Mold is a trigger for allergy and asthma sufferers and exposure to mold may cause reactions, such as asthma attacks, sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Even dead mold spores pose a risk, especially for children and adults with respiratory problems
NCHH as well as other industry leaders recommend the following steps for cleaning up flooded homes:
1. Remove standing water and dry out the building as soon as you can. Open doors and windows. Mop up or pump out any standing water.
2. Use a mild detergent and water to clean and remove mold from hard surfaces.
3. Use fans and dehumidifiers, like EZ Breathe to remove moisture after cleaning. Be careful not to blow mold around while drying—point fans to blow outside. Air movement is the key to getting things dried out.
4. Throw away moldy things that cannot be cleaned, such as carpets and carpet padding, upholstered furniture, drywall, wood molding, fiberglass or cellulose insulation, and ceiling tiles.
5. If there is more than 10 square feet (about 3 ft. X 3 ft.) of mold in your house, consider using a professional mold clean-up contractor. Do not hire a contractor who recommends fogging or spraying as a way to clean up mold. Moldy materials must be removed from the building.
6. Wipe dry or allow all surfaces to fully air-dry before doing any more work. Make sure that the home is allowed to completely dry before beginning restoration.
7. The next step is to control odor. Ventilating the space will keep the air moving and thereby exhausting any odors that may still be lingering.
8. Additionally, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, residents are reminded not to operate generators within buildings. In the case of power outages, generators should only be operated outside of an enclosed space.
9. Once your space is dried out and livable, it is important to maintain the relative humidity in the basement or crawlspace ideally below 50%. This can be accomplished with ventilation system.
10. Remember to take your time, use common sense and get as much help as you can.
What the Experts Say:
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests you dry everything in the home because germs and mold can accumulate after two days. It’s best to check with the manufacturers of the goods for the best way to clean it. When doing this, you should wear goggles, gloves, work boots, a mask and long clothing to protect yourself. The Agency also recommends hiring a professional when dealing with a large amount of mold.
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggests you remove any items such as mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics and other things that cannot be washed and disinfected. This also includes drywall and insulation that has been contaminated. After you’re done cleaning, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands and clothing.
To find out what is needed in your community, contact your local officials and/or drop-off center.
If you're not anywhere near New York or New Jersey, consider the ways that you can still help:
Red Cross: Donate online or via text message to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
Federal Emergency Management Association: Visit the government's Hurricane Sandy relief site to learn more ways you can volunteer and donate to areas in need.