How To Protect Your Health And Clean Up Your Home After A Flood

After you have experienced a flood in your home, you want to clean it up and return back to your home and life as soon as possible. While cleaning up after a flood, be sure to take precautions to protect your health from contaminated flood waters, clean and disinfect your home, and prevent mold growth. Here are tips to help you accomplish this.

Protect Your Health

Flood waters in your home can bring in bacteria and other contaminants, which you want to protect yourself from, such as tetanus, E. coli, Salmonella, and Hepatitis A. Flood waters can often contain sewage as the waters combined with flooded sewer systems. After the flood waters have receded and removed from inside your home, be sure to wear protective clothing to prevent the contaminants from coming in contact with your skin and also so you don't ingest them. Wear rubber boots and rubber glove while you clean up, then take a shower with soap and water when you are finished. It is best to assume that any flood waters you are cleaning up in contain contaminants.  

Do not drink any water from your home's water supply until you have been told by local officials it is safe to drink to prevent your becoming infected with any viruses or bacteria. Until that time, drink bottled water or disinfect your own water to make it safe for drinking. To disinfect water, boil it for at least ten minutes, or add five drops of household bleach to one gallon of water and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. 

If you have an open wound and are cleaning up flooding in or around your home, make sure you protect the open wound to prevent it from becoming infected. Keep the wound covered with a waterproof bandage and be sure to wash your wound with soap and water to keep it clean. If your wound begins to show signs of infection, such as swelling or redness, get medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading further throughout your body.

Clean Up Your Home

To clean up after a flood, it is important to begin cleaning your household items and surfaces that have come in contact with the water. Besides the flood water bringing a risk of contamination from sewage, mold can begin to grow on surfaces that have been wet for only 48 to 72 hours. So, it is necessary to clean and disinfect as many surfaces as possible and discard other porous surfaces you cannot fully disinfect.

First, remove water-damaged items from your home to be disposed of, such as carpet, carpet padding, upholstered furniture, drywall, leather, paper, insulation, and other porous surfaces. It is best to bag up in garbage bags any wet items before you throw them away to prevent their contaminating others. Items, such as clothing, bedding, and stuffed animals that can be washed and disinfected in a washing machine can be saved. Launder these items in your clothes washer in warm or hot water and laundry detergent, followed by drying them completely on a heat setting in your dryer. If any of these porous items contain mold or mildew growth, add bleach to the wash cycle as you wash them in your clothes washer, which will disinfect the items. Then, dry them in your clothes dryer on a heat setting until they are fully dry.

Rinse non-porous flooring, countertops, dishes, cans of food, and other hard surfaces in clean water, then it is recommended to use a bleach solution to disinfect them. Combine one cup of unscented five to six percent bleach to five gallons of water. Use this solution to submerge or wipe down any contaminated surfaces in your home, then allow them to air-dry. Air drying any floodwater-contaminated surfaces in your home allows the bleach solution time to disinfect the surfaces.

If you find mold growth on any non-porous surfaces, you can clean the mold with brush or rag and a solution of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Then, rinse the surface clean and allow it to dry.

Use these instructions to protect your health while you work on water clean up after a flood.