Floods are the leading natural disaster in the U.S. Moreover, they can wreak havoc on a home or building that lasts long after waters recede (source). From damaged personal items to the growth of mold spores that can impact your health, dealing with the aftermath of a flood can be overwhelming. Nobody understands this more than those recently affected by Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas and Tropical Storm Irma in Florida.
Harvey is the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since 2004, and floods have greatly impacted the nation’s fourth-largest city, Houston. Just a week later, Irma set flooding records in Jacksonville. Now, homeowners, businesses, and volunteers in both states have the daunting task of cleaning up. Quickly taking the proper steps to restore flooded properties can help limit the extent of damage, especially when it comes to mildew growth. Use the tips below to learn how to prevent mold after a flood and get rid of musty odors.
Mold and Your Health
Knowing how to prevent mold after a flood is important to your health. In nature, mold is everywhere – in the air and on many organic surfaces. But mold growth indoors is an abnormal condition, resulting from excessive moisture accumulation. When the problem remains unaddressed, it could even affect the health of your children.
In your home, mold and mildew will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, especially in people who are already sensitive to molds and upper respiratory conditions. Furthermore, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing in healthy individuals (source). The IOM also found suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
Many materials in your home are prone to developing mold if they’re damp or wet for too long. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests starting post-flood cleanup immediately by sorting all items exposed to floodwaters:
- Wood, upholstered furniture, and other porous materials can trap mold. Consider discarding these items. Anything that was totally submerged below the waterline should be discarded.
- Glass, plastic, and metal objects made of hardened or nonporous materials can often be cleaned, disinfected, and reused.
- Drying out carpet does not remove mold spores. Carpets with mold and mildew should be removed.
How to Prevent Mold After a Flood
Once you remove the mold-infested items from your home, it’s time to clean and disinfect the remaining surfaces. The CDC offers these tips regarding how to prevent mold after a flood:
- Wear protective equipment to safeguard your eyes, nose, mouth, and skin.
- Clean and dry out the building within 24 to 48 hours.
- Open all doors and windows while you work.
- When electricity is safe to use, turn on fans and dehumidifiers to help reduce moisture.
- Do not mix cleaning products like ammonia and bleach, as this can create toxic vapors.
- Remove all the mold you can see with water and detergent. Dry surfaces right away.
- Use a disinfectant on all surfaces. The SafeSpace Disinfectant Germ Fogger allows you to quickly and easily disinfect an entire room with just the push of a button. It also helps prevent the spread of mold in your home once it is removed.
Getting Rid of Musty or Damp Odors
Once all the water recedes, floods can leave behind musty or damp odors. To eliminate these odors, try the SafeSpace Disinfectant Germ Fogger. In addition to disinfecting a space, as we mentioned above, this product can mitigate unpleasant smells. Plus, unlike disinfecting wipes, sprays, and similar products, the SafeSpace fogger utilizes a propellant inside the can, which triggers the release of a fine mist. This makes it incredibly easy to disperse the contents throughout the room, eliminating germs, mold, and other harmful microorganisms on everything the fog touches.
Dealing with the aftermath of a flood can be a stressful and time-consuming process. If your home or business has been damaged by floodwaters, our hearts go out to you. For disaster help and resources, contact DisasterAssistance.gov.