Post Disaster House Clean Up Tips
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina over the weekend. It’s considered the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the Carolinas and the first major hurricane to hit the country this year. At least 35 people have died and 343,000 people are still without power. And even though sun is shining in parts of the state, major flooding continues – leaving many houses and properties soaked and wrecked.
Cleaning up after a natural disaster is an emotional, time-consuming and stressful process. Whether you have been affected by hurricane Florence or not, learning about the best practices, techniques and tools for post disaster cleanup is essential to minimize the damage of natural disasters in your home in the future.
Before starting the cleanup process, make sure that your home is free from any structural damage and contaminants that can compromise your health and safety. If possible, call a property inspector, electrician or a government (FEMA) representative to perform a thorough assessment of your dwelling.
Once your home has been cleared for any risk of danger, you can now proceed with the cleanup. However, make sure to wear protective outfit. Take note that disasters can bring about all forms of debris, especially if they involve flooding. Grey and black flood water could contain potentially harmful substances associated with various health problems, ranging from diarrhea to hard-to-treat infections.
Ensure that all electrical switches, panels or fuses are completely shut down. Take extra precaution when handling electrical equipment, propane tanks, car batteries, and other items that could explode or cause fire.
Enlist help from other people
Cleaning your dwelling after a disaster is not an easy job. It could take days or weeks, depending on the severity of damage. Also, the debris caused by natural disasters are often heavy and difficult to dispose. Thus, you must get all the help you can get.
Solicit help from your relatives and friends. Before starting the cleanup, assign people to work on specific parts or rooms in your house. Create a plan for a smooth and efficient cleaning process and provide necessary supplies and tools they will be needing. Designate areas where they can put debris to be collected and disposed later.
It is better if you can enlist help from disaster cleanup professionals. These people have the tools, equipment and know-how to efficiently get rid of debris and other contaminants in your home or property. They also are trained to dispose various kinds of debris safely and properly.
Sort your home items. Discard heavily damaged items
Some items may have been damaged beyond repair. Carpets, rugs and other floor coverings that have been soaked in flood water are likely to be discarded as well, along with books, papers and other items that can’t be washed and restored. Furniture items should be taken out to dry completely. If you wait longer before cleaning and drying them out, they can warp and rot. You want to remove most if not all items from your home into your garage or outdoor area where you can easily clean and dry them.
Have a disposal plan. In most cases, local governments offer free debris pickup after a natural disaster as long as homeowners are able to categorize their waste (construction debris, electronics, appliances, and vegetative debris) and place it on the curb for pickup. Of course, you want to segregate hazardous items like batteries, paint, pesticides, cleaning supplies, and chemicals and label them accordingly.
Deep clean everything
Now the tough part. Once you’ve taken out all debris and items that should be dried and restored, it’s time to deep clean your home. Pay attention to the walls, windows, floors and ceilings. There are no cutting corners when it comes to disaster cleanup. Use soap and water when scrubbing surfaces to eliminate potentially harmful substances like mold and mildew. If you have a small crew, work in one area or room at a time. If you have many friends or relatives to help out, assign two or more persons for each part of the house.
Ventilate your house while cleaning
For hurricanes, fire and other disasters that involve water damage, it is necessary to increase air flow within the house or dwelling all throughout the cleanup process. This can be achieved by simply opening doors and windows and installing dehumidifiers. Dehumidifiers help reduce moisture in the air circulating inside your home, speeding up the drying process of water-damaged materials, especially in areas that tend to have higher humidity levels like the attic, basement, kitchen and bathroom.
Post disaster cleanup is definitely a difficult job which has to be done prior the restoration of a home or building. Hopefully, with these tips and suggestions, you can make this process easier and more efficient.