Uncontrolled water will ruin your prized possessions, the house in which they are stored, and even your health and safety. By acting quickly and carefully, you can minimize the danger and damage to all three.
Don’t treat flood water in unwanted places lightly: even if your basement is just damp, potential hazards to your safety need to be addressed. Work quickly to clean and dry the affected areas.
Five steps for post-flood building restoration are recommended by FEMA.gov:
(1) air out
(2) move out
(3) tear out
(4) clean out, and
(5) dry out
As you work, be aware of four dangers to occupants and workers:
Protection from mold contamination: Mold growth not only ruins physical structures, it can lead to poor indoor air quality and cause respiratory problems including asthma, and can lead to severe illness. Preventing mold growth is key to keeping your home’s air clean and healthy. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that anyone entering a house with visible mold growth should wear a disposable suit, rubber gloves, and respiratory protection. A disposable respirator marked with an N-95 rating offers the minimum lung protection that should be used when in the presence of mold. A full-face respirator is recommended for mold cleaning to protect both the eyes and the respiratory system. If a full-face respirator is not used during cleaning, goggles or a face shield should be worn with the disposable respirator.
Protection from bacterial contamination: After the area has dried out, including wood beams, insulation, drywall, etc., use a good disinfectant to get rid of any bacteria that might have come up through sewers, toilets, etc. Gloves Off Disinfectant is a non-toxic but powerful disinfectant. Disinfect all areas affected by the flood waters including walls and wood and non-upholstered furniture that sat in flood water.
Protection from electrical shock: Because of the danger of shocks and fire, electrical receptacles that were flooded should not be used to operate cleaning or drying equipment. An electrician should evaluate the condition of flooded components prior to use. As a rule, all flooded receptacles should be removed and replaced after the appropriate circuit breakers or fuses are deactivated and the interruption of power to the receptacle confirmed.
Protection from asbestos and lead paint: Asbestos in floor tile, pipe and boiler insulation, and electrical wiring are common in many homes built before 1980. Breathing asbestos fibers released from building products can increase the risk of cancer and cause a number of serious lung diseases. Similarly, paint in homes constructed prior to 1978 may contain lead. If lead paint is aerosolized during muck-out or gutting activities, it is especially dangerous to child occupants if not cleaned up properly. If asbestos or lead paint is suspected, obtain the services of a specialist to perform material testing, and do not disturb the material until testing has been completed. If testing confirms the presence of lead, remediation should be conducted by a licensed professional. If materials containing asbestos are present, remediation must be performed in accordance with applicable State and Federal regulations.
Some of your success depends on how long the area was left wet. Depending on the size of the area and your ability to manage the tasks, professional service companies can work to quickly develop a restoration solution to reverse the initial damage as well as to prevent any secondary damage. Water damage is invasive, and moisture can be hidden in walls, floors, or ceilings. Using state-of-the-art thermal imaging technology, teams will identify and address all areas of hidden moisture that can continue to damage your property. Identifying hidden areas of moisture and managing indoor humidity levels is extremely important for preventing mold growth after water damage.