A home flood disaster can bring toxins and microorganisms into your home which can put your health and your family's health at risk. Be aware of these two dangers that come with a home flood and how you can remedy them.
After your home has become flooded, it is important to dry out all surfaces as soon as possible. Mold can begin to grow on surfaces in your home within 24 to 48 hours. Use a pump or wet vacuum to remove all water from your home so you can prevent mold growth.
Mold is dangerous to you and especially to children an infants. There has been some evidence linking SIDS to toxic mold exposure. Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum can cause asthma, allergies, headaches, and even cancer. Some molds produce toxins that get into your brain from your nose and eyes. Some of these can cause problems with your central nervous system, such as cognitive and behavioral changes, convulsions, and full loss of bodily control.
To prevent mold growth, remove any wet drywall and insulation as they cannot be dried out quickly or salvaged. Drywall loses its strength after it has become wet and the air pockets inside insulation become saturated and don't dry out easily. Then, remove any carpet padding, wet mattresses, and upholstered furniture as they also can not be dried within 48 hours.
If mold has begun to grow in your home, you can clean it up on your own if the affected area is less than ten square feet. Otherwise, it is best to hire a mold prevention or remediation company. To clean up a small area of mold in your home, spray a mold biocide cleaning solution over the mold to kill it. Make sure to you wear a protective mask while you treat the mold so you don't inhale any spores.
During flooding, storm drains can become flooded and cause sewage to spill out and mix with the flood waters. As this contaminated flood enters your home, it can bring with it bacteria, viruses, and parasites that live in sewage:
- Sewage waste can contain bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter. The bacteria E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. This bacteria can also cause kidney failure and death if you don't get treatment when you become infected.
- Salmonella bacteria can cause high fevers, cramping, and severe diarrhea. Parasites, such as Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia intestinalis can both cause diarrhea, cramping, and a fever if you become infected.
- Viruses found in sewage include rotavirus, adenovirus, and Norwalk virus, which can all cause nausea, cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting after infection.
As you clean up your home after sewage contaminated flooding, wear protective eyewear, rubber gloves, and boots. Protect and cover any open cuts or scratches on your body while you are cleaning. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can enter your body through a cut and infect you.
Remove contaminated flood water with a pump or wet vacuum and remove any solid waste from the flooding. You may need to throw away items that are difficult to clean. This can include, upholstered furniture, mattresses, carpet padding, pillows, stuffed animals, cardboard, and books.
Clothing, bedding, or other items you can wash can be disinfected and cleaned by heating them to 113º F for 20 minutes, 122º F for 5 minutes, or 162º F for 1 minute. Clean and disinfect the surfaces of all other items you are going to salvage. Wash them with warm soapy water and rinse with clean water. After you have cleaned all contaminated surfaces, disinfect them by applying a disinfecting solution of one cup bleach to one gallon water. Allow the disinfected areas to dry completely.