Residents returning home after hurricanes may be relieved to find their homes intact, but if flooding occurred, there could be much more going on than meets the eye. Like mold — one of the unpleasant, and unhealthy, side effects of storm damage. If your home has mold, follow these tips.
1. Let it dry
You may not see it or even smell it, but mold can begin to develop within 24 to 48 hours after a flood. To avoid big problems with mold, immediately begin the drying out process. Here’s how to do that:
• Remove rugs, upholstered furniture, curtains and any other soft surfaces from the home and get them outdoors to dry out.
• Use fans and dehumidifiers to reduce moisture.
• Keep doors and windows open as much as possible – keep air moving though the home.
2. Get the Right Gear
Mold can cause all sorts of health problems such as stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation, so it’s important to protect yourself and wear the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) when working in a mold-prone environment. Here’s what you can do:
• Wear protective eyewear and non-porous gloves
• Put on a mask (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an N-95 respirator or greater)
• Dress in long sleeves, long pants and rubber boots to prevent skin contact
3. When in doubt, throw it out
• A good rule of thumb is to toss any “soft” items/surfaces (such as upholstered furniture, pillows, curtains, bedding and rugs)
• If you have wet drywall and insulation, remove it and get it outside your home to prevent mold from growing behind the walls.
• Toss any porous materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried
4. Clean Carefully
• Clean hard surfaces with hot water/bleach — don’t mix bleach with other cleaners
• Spray remaining surfaces with an antimicrobial cleaner