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What To Do When Flooding Hits Your Area

August 29, 2017

What To Do When Flooding Hits Your Area

In June of 2013, the Cougar Creek, Highwood River, and other rivers in Alberta, Canada overflowed due to extensive rainfall. The widespread flooding caused major damage in Canmore, Calgary and High River, and resulted in lengthy power outages and the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway. The catastrophic flooding was the worst in Alberta’s history. As water levels rose, many communities were forced to evacuate, causing families to leave their homes to the flood waters.

Meteorologists and climate experts warn of an increasing trend in precipitation intensity and total rainfall across North America. With the rising threat of dangerous weather, it is important to know what to do when flooding hits your area.

The First Critical Hours

The first 24 to 36 hours after flood waters recede are critical. A damp environment quickly breeds dangerous mold and bacteria. Starting the cleanup process quickly is essential to ensuring a home remains safe and healthy. Mold and mildew will begin to grow almost immediately and it often lurks in overlooked places such as basements, crawl spaces, and attic areas.

Before you begin your clean-up efforts, it is important to prevent any further water intrusion into the dwelling. After the threat of further water damage has been eliminated, a thorough cleaning should begin as soon as possible.

Important Tips for Flood Clean-Up

Here are eight tips to help maximize your clean-up efforts.

  1. Begin Immediately. Since mold, mildew, and bacteria begin spreading almost instantly after a flood, be sure to launch your cleaning efforts as soon as you are able.
  2. Ventilate the area. It is essential to dry the damp spaces as quickly as possible. Open windows and doors to let in fresh air. Fans will also help circulate air. Dehumidifiers will also help dry the space more efficiently.
  3. Wear a protective gear. Rubber gloves, eye protection, and a face mask will help protect you from harmful mold and bacteria. A mask that is rated N-95 or higher is appropriate for situations where mold may be present.
  4. Use the proper cleaning solution. To effectively eliminate mold and mildew, add 1 ½ cups of bleach to every gallon of water. Be careful when mixing cleaning supplies. Never mix bleach and ammonia. The fumes are toxic.
  5. Remove carpeting. Carpets in flooded homes should be removed and discarded. Even after they are dry, they can still harbor dangerous mold spores.
  6. If it can’t be cleaned, it needs to be removed. Materials that can’t be properly cleaned and disinfected need to be removed and thrown away. This includes wallboard, fiberglass, and cellulose.
  7. Use an appropriate air purifier. A high-performance air purifier will help clean the air and remove mold spores even while cleaning efforts are still underway. The Austin Air HealthMate Plus is effective at dramatically reducing airborne particulates like mold spores. It can also help eliminate musty odors left over after flooding.
  8. Don’t be afraid to call in a professional. If the structure has been damaged by sewage, contaminated water, or if mold damage is extensive, it is time to seek the help of professionals. Be sure to check the credentials of any contractor you consider hiring. Look for a professional with experience handling mold and who will follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s mold remediation guidelines.

Often the most difficult part of flood clean-up effort isn’t the taxing physical labor. It can be emotionally traumatic to sort through flood damaged possessions and have to throw out favorite clothes, furniture, pictures, and family heirlooms. While it may be tempting to hold on to cherished items, if they have been contaminated, it is best to throw them away.

By taking action as soon as possible and taking the right steps to halt the spread of dangerous mold after a flood, your home will more quickly return to the safe environment you’ve always enjoyed.

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