Cleaning up after a flood
Published: Jun 10, 2013
Last week, Nassau experienced one of the worst rains in history leaving many Nassau residents’ homes totally flooded. After the initial shock of having to deal with your home having been destroyed by water, comes the unpleasant process of cleaning up. The process should start immediately after the rains have stopped and it is safe to open your doors and windows.
During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials 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 cause damage long after the flood.
It is a very good idea to keep a dehumidifier in your home. Set the humidity to very low and let it run and this will help speed up the drying process and continue to draw moisture out of your walls, floors and furniture. Be sure and empty the water canister regularly or connect a hose to it and let it drain into your shower drain. Using a wet and dry shop vac to draw up the water and moisture is also a great way to dry out the floors.
Using detergents that kill germs to clean your bathrooms, kitchen and tiled floors are recommended. Flood waters may be contaminated with sewerage and garbage in which case walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water until all visible soil is removed. Once surfaces appear clean disinfect with a solution of 5 teaspoon of household bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water to remove bacteria and viruses. Avoid mixing bleach with other cleaning substances.
Wear a respirator mask over your mouth and nose, so that you do not breathe in a lot of mold. A respirator that protects against mold is called an N95 respirator.
Tackle one room at a time. Make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area.
Apply cleaner and give it time to work before you mop or sponge it up.
A two bucket approach is most efficient:
• Use one bucket for rinse water and the other for the cleaner. Using two buckets keeps most of the dirty rinse water out of your cleaning solution. Rinse out your sponge, mop, or cleaning cloth in the rinse bucket.
• Wring it as dry as possible and keep it rolled up tight as you put it in the cleaner bucket.
• Ret it unroll to absorb the cleaner.
• Replace the rinse water frequently (make sure the water you use is free from contamination).
Start cleaning a wall at the bottom or where the worst damage occurred. If you did not have to remove the wallboard or plaster, you may find it won’t come clean and you will want to replace it. If you have removed the wallboard or plaster, wash the studs and sills and disinfect them.
Although the cleanup process can be very stressful, following a few of these tips will ensure that it is done safely.
• Carmen Massoni is president of Bahama Islands Realty and has 18 years of experience in the real estate profession in The Bahamas. She has been the recipient of many international awards recognizing her as a top producer amongst her peers.
If you have any questions or need real estate advice, call 322-7770 or email Carmen@BahamaIslandsRealty.com.