Cleaning up after a flood is a big task, and sometimes things get forgotten. In addition to drying out your home and getting your carpets cleaned, here are three things you need to do after a flood to make your home healthy and safe for you and your family to live in.
Floods can cause an increase in communicable diseases, depending on the source of the water. Flooding caused by hurricanes and other natural disasters can cause water to become contaminated with chemicals, biological fluids, animals wastes, and other disease-causing elements, all of which may find their way onto your walls, floors, and counters as the water flows through your home. Even floods caused by something going wrong inside your home—such as an overflowing toilet—can result in the proliferation of harmful bacteria in affected areas.
Therefore, it's critical you use a powerful disinfectant when cleaning up after a flood, preferably one that kills a wide range of bacteria and viruses. Bleach is a good option, since it destroys dangerous bacteria like E. coli and staphylococcus as well as mold and some viruses (e.g., the common-cold bug). However, bleach can stain surfaces. Additionally, you need to be careful when you use it, as it can aggravate breathing conditions and have other harmful effects on human health.
There are many other alternative disinfectants out there, though. Hydrogen peroxide is safer than bleach as long as it's diluted to a 3 percent concentration or less. Any higher than that, and it can cause respiratory problems and even burn the skin. Ammonia-based cleaners are also good for killing bacteria, but it's not effective against all of them.
While you can use a combination of different substances to maximize their effectiveness, be certain to do research first to ensure you're not accidentally making mustard gas or some other harmful substance that could severely compromise your health. A third option is to have the cleaning done by a professional company who may have access to better disinfectant products not normally available to the general public.
Reuse, Recycle, or Upcycle Damaged Items
Depending on the severity of the flood, you may have some damaged furniture, clothes, appliances, and other items. Your first instinct may be to simply throw those things away in the trash. However, that should be a last resort. Landfills are already filled to the brim with trash and emit 34 percent of the methane emissions produced in the world (contributing to climate change and other environmental problems).
Instead, do what you can to reuse, recycle, or upcycle the items. For instance, damaged appliances are typically constructed with recyclable metals, so it's better to take the matter to a salvage yard rather than throw it in the dumpster. Some utility companies will take damaged appliances off your hands. Typically they will give them to organizations that specialize in fixing broken appliances and giving them to low-income families.
Even drywall, wood, and stone can be reused in the home or recycled. Use the search option on Earth 911 to find places near you that take the items you want to get rid of. You can also find inspiration from Pinterest or craft blogs for upcycling or reusing damaged items.
One nasty side effect of flooding is the excess water that can weaken the joints, supports, and foundation of your home. For instance, the excess water may put undue pressure on the exterior walls of your basement, causing cracks to form and increasing the chances that area will develop leaks at a later date.
It's a good idea to have your home inspected by a contractor and get any weakened areas repaired as soon as possible to avoid nasty accidents or collapses at a later date.
For more information on recovering from a flood or to hire someone to help you with clean up, contact a restoration company.