Delaware Division of Public Health offers recommendations to head off problems of mold and electric shock following flooding.

 


Water intrusion creates a variety of health and safety risks for families. Flooding and leaks are a leading cause of mold growth in homes. Flooding also puts water in dangerous proximity to electricity, creating risk of electrical shock. Delaware's Division of Public Health offers the following recommendations to head off this growing problem.

Those leaving their homes due to flooding should turn off the electricity and gas valves or fuel services first to prevent safety hazards.Don't turn the electricity or gas back on until a licensed professional has checked the systems. Do not wait for water-soaked items to dry. Remove them from your home immediately. If you are unable to lift heavy items, ask for assistance. Start with bedrooms first, since this is where you generally spend long hours. Remove water-damaged items such as carpet and padding, mattresses, bedding, furniture, draperies and clothing. Remove and discard wet drywall at least 18 inches above the water line. Discard all wet carpet.

Cleaning and Repairing Flooded Basements

Check outside cellar walls for possible cave-ins, evidence of structural damage or other hazards. Consider hiring a licensed structural engineer to evaluate your residence. Run dehumidifiers and empty the water pan frequently, or empty directly to a sump pump, to lower the humidity and help prevent mold and odors. Open doors and windows or use blowers to force in fresh air to remove odors once the home is dry. Do not use an electric pump powered by your own electrical system. Use a gas-powered pump or one connected to an outside power source. Fire departments in some communities may help with such services. Ventilate the area to prevent build up of carbon monoxide gas. Before beginning clean-up, protect yourself with an N95 respirator, gloves and eye protection, available at most hardware stores. After water has been pumped from the basement, shovel out the mud and debris while it is still moist. Hose down walls to remove as much silt as possible before it dries. Floors and walls may need sanitizing, particularly if sewage has entered the basement. Scrub walls and floors with a 10% bleach solution or other comparable commercially available disinfectant. Oil stains in basements caused by overturned or damaged oil tanks may be a problem following flooding. Call a professional to remove oil residue. Dealing with garbage and sewage can be challenging. If toilets aren't working, use portable units. Beware that sewage can backflow through floor drains into basements. Clean with a disinfectant. Never mix ammonia and chlorine bleach, which produces poisonous chloramine gas. After coming into contact with sewage or floodwater, wash your hands well and use a brush to clean under fingernails.

These precautions will make clean up tasks safer and healthier.
For more information or other public health concerns, contact the Division of Public Health at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/hsp/healthyhomes.html