The Pest Control Blog North America

Cleaning Up After A Flood

How to clean a flood damaged homeAs the coastal surge retreats and storm Sandy sweeps away from New York City, Pennsylvania and upstate New York, the destruction is far from over. Flood clearance will be encumbered by wind warnings and a wintry cold front which is likely to produce heavy rain, snowfall and local flooding. Some areas may also be without power until next week.

If you are in a high risk flood area take steps now to prepare your home against flooding by raising home appliances such as washing machines and fridges at least 12 inches off the floor – cinder blocks work well. Check you are fully insured for flood damage – on many insurance policies this is optional so make sure you have opted in. Just a few inches of water can create major damage to your home or premises as this interactive tool from the National Flood Insurance Programme demonstrates.

If you are not insured federal disaster assistance can be an expensive route to take as a loan can comprise tens of thousands of dollars that must be paid back with interest. In contrast flood insurance is a few extra dollars a month.

If you do have to make a claim be prepared by making a full inventory of all your possessions, take photographs and put receipts in a safe place out of the reach of water. Don’t forget to check your car insurance too – a car can easily be carried away by two feet of water.

After a flood there is a chance that rodents have been flushed from their nests and will be looking for shelter which offers food and warmth. Be extra vigilant and shore-up any damage which allows access for mice and rats. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a pencil so fill any gaps with wire wool and seal with DIY Spray foam.

Flood Water Is Contaminated

Remember that flood water is contaminated and the same grade as sewage so use a mask, sturdy gloves and safety glasses to clean your property and belongings. Be sure to clean your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with flood water or may you risk contracting a flood water disease.

Wear gloves when cleaning flood contaminated itemsThe World Health Organization holds that “the only epidemic-prone infection which can be transmitted directly from contaminated water is leptospirosis, a zoonotic bacterial disease. Transmission occurs through contact of the skin and mucous membranes with water, damp soil or vegetation (such as sugarcane) or mud contaminated with rodent urine. The occurrence of flooding after heavy rainfall facilitates the spread of the organism due to the proliferation of rodents which shed large amounts of leptospires in their urine.” An outbreak of leptospirosis occurred in Santa Fe in 1998. In October 2010 Andy Holmes, the British Olympic Gold Medalist rower, died from leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s Disease.

Anything which has come into contact with flood water should be considered contaminated. Washing clothes and soft furnishings on a high temperature with an antimicrobial solution will sanitize them. Scrub all hard furniture which has come into contact with flood water and spray with an antimicrobial. Anything which cannot be saved or cleaned thoroughly such as electrics and books should be thrown away.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes, such terrible flooding will see the return of our old enemy, Weil’s Disease! Great advice about the ant-microbial too, after Hurricane Katrina toxic mould affected thousands of homes and even entire communities. Best to get shot of anything non-essential that’s touched floodwater!

  2. David Thomas
    Posted July 26, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks for telling about flood water diseases. Great advice about the safety measures taken while removing contaminated flood water.

  3. Ariel
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Flood cleanup can be a very hard task. Aside from the disease you can get from it while cleaning, your things and your place may also be flooded with bacteria from the water.

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