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Helpful tips on flood water clean up
By Jimmy DiMarzio
Released/Published: Apr 15, 2011

                              Helpful Tips on Flood Water Clean up


When flooding has occurred, important steps must be taken to assure the health and safety of individuals involved. It should be assumed during flood cleanup operations that all surfaces reached by flood waters or debris have been contaminated with possible disease causing organisms.  Contact with flood water that contains sewage and others sources of bacteria should be done only with caution.
Personal Protection:

Only adults should be involved with flood clean-up. Children and pets should not be allowed in these areas. Do not allow children to swim or play in or near flooded areas, especially in ditches, culverts or moving stream waters.

Wear waterproof boots and gloves during clean-up. If splashing or dripping of flood waters is possible, eye protection should be worn. Be cautious of dangerous debris hidden under standing water such as broken glass, sharp metal and protruding nails.

Do not expose open skin wounds to flood waters, mud or debris.  Any cuts or puncture wounds during clean-up should receive medical attention. Cleanse the wound with soap and warm water and apply a clean bandage until medical treatment is received.

Thoroughly shower or bathe after cleaning up flood-damaged areas.

General Safety

Take caution with electricity. Do not use any electrical appliances or outlets until the power company has given approval. 

Do not use any matches, lighters or other open flames until the area has been thoroughly ventilated of trapped natural gas. The gas supply to all appliances should be turned off until the appliance, especially furnaces and hot water heaters, has been checked.

Food items pose a special threat. Food items that are stored in boxes or bags, home-canned items, glass jars, cans with pull tabs, or fresh fruit and vegetables must be thrown away if touched by flood waters. Commercially canned food can be used if the can is washed in a solution of one tablespoon of household bleach mixed in a gallon of water.

Clean-up Procedures

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, etc. must be controlled in a clean-up process. These organisms can become air-borne once dried. Therefore it is important to have all flood damaged areas treated with a disinfectant as soon as possible once the heavy soil is removed. The most widely accepted disinfectant solution for flood clean-up is one gallon of water mixed with 1/4 cup of household bleach. Allow the solution to remain on the surface for 15 minutes before drying the area. Stuffed furniture, pillows, mattresses, and thick carpeting and padding will need to be professionally cleaned or discarded. There is no safe home cleaning of these items.

Mold can be removed safely from wood furniture with rubbing alcohol.  For additional information, contact the Canton City Health Department or your local health department.

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