All Throughout Louisiana and Texas, Hurricane Harvey cleanup is still underway. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, as well as the Caribbean islands, are working to recover from the devastation brought by Irma. If you experienced the ferocity of either of these hurricanes — or any other storm — one fact remains constant, after storm cleanup can be a challenging nightmare!
After Storm cleanup is way different from everyday regular, and even heavy-duty, cleaning. There are many hazards, health concerns, and other matters to deal with that go beyond typical cleaning. After Storm cleanup usually requires specialized cleaning products, specific tools, and precise cleaning techniques. Additionally, you also need protective gear and safety measures not used for regular everyday cleaning.
Here is a simple guideline you can follow to clean up after a hurricane or storm hits your home. It will help you manage the clean-up tasks and get you started on the path back to your normal life.
Before you Venture Out to Begin After Storm Cleanup
- Make sure you are wearing proper protection to prevent injury.
- Wear work gloves, safety glasses, a heavy-duty work shirt with long sleeves, work pants, and rubber – waterproof steel-toe work boots.
- Also bring a heavy-duty flashlight or torch, spare batteries, and extra clothing.
- If you must operate any heavy machinery, bring and wear ear protection, a helmet, and protective clothing such as chaps or trousers and a chainsaw jacket.
- Tune in to find out state announcements and updates about the situation around your area. Then make sure it is safe before you head out.
While traveling towards your home to do After Storm Cleanup
- Report all hazards such as downed power lines, frayed electrical wires, or gas leaks to utility providers. Assume that all cables and power lines are active, particularly if there is a power outage. You may not know when the service provider will restore their services.
- Avoid wandering through floodwaters – they can hide dangerous debris or ground that washed away. Additionally, floodwaters can potentially hold electrical charges due to downed exposed electrical wiring.
- Use a wooden pole to check flooded areas for cavities, holes or dangerous protruding objects.
When Entering Damaged Buildings
- First, you must stay away from any damaged or dilapidated buildings and structures until an inspector or other government-appointed specialist examines it and confirms that it is safe to enter.
- Wait until daylight returns, before beginning any after storm cleanup. That way it is easier to see and avoid many hazards – particularly if the power is out.
- If you detect and smell any hint of gas or even suspect a gas leak, exit the building immediately, and contact emergency authorities right away! Do not return to the building until it is safe to do so.
To Prevent Mold Build-up
- Clean up and dry out your home after the storm or flood passes as quickly as possible. Use desiccants and dehumidifying agents to accomplish this. Desiccants are materials that absorb moisture. They are very useful in drying out closets and other enclosed areas without windows or doors. If possible, do it within 24 to 48 hours.
- Air out your home by opening all the doors and windows.
- Use fans to dry large wet areas. Position them so that they that blow air out of the doorways or windows.
- Discard anything that you cannot wash and clean, or dry quickly. That means tossing things like baby toys, books, carpet padding, carpeting, mattresses, pillows, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, and even wall coverings. Wooden furniture might be salvaged if you put it outside in the sun to dry out.
- Remove drywall and insulation that has been contaminated and tainted with sewage or flood waters.
- Thoroughly clean all wet objects and surfaces with hot water and antibacterial cleaning solutions.
- Clean any appliances, concrete surface, countertops, flooring, moldings, other plumbing fixtures, as well as wood and metal furniture.
- Repair all leaks in the ceiling, plumbing, roofs, or walls as soon as you can.
- Clean up the mold with a mixture of bleach and water. However, never use bleach in a closed space. Open the windows and doors first.
- Before making your own cleaner, put on personal protective equipment to protect your eyes, nose, mouth, and skin. Wear goggles, safety gloves, and a facemask, preferably an N95 respirator. It is a type of CDC-recommended facemask that protects the wearer from airborne and liquid-based contaminants.
- To make your own homemade cleaner, combine a cup of household bleach with a gallon of water.
- Thoroughly clean everything with mold on it.
Once You Finish After Storm cleanup
- Wash up immediately with soap and water, and then disinfect using antibacterial alcohol.
- Use water that has been boiling for at least 1 minute. Allow the water to cool before washing.
- Thoroughly wash with soap and water any open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater. Then apply an antibiotic ointment or salve to prevent an infection.
- Seek out immediate medical attention if you suffer an injury or get sick.
- Meticulously wash all clothes that you wore during the cleanup, putting them through 2 wash cycles. Use hot water and detergent, preferably with antibacterial or antimicrobial properties. If you want, you can add Vinegar to the wash since it does have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Just use a ¼ to ½ cup of vinegar in each load of laundry. Keep in mind to wash these clothes separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
Do take note, After Storm cleanup can be a dangerous and perilous project. Contact professional cleaners if the need arises. Always, before beginning any cleanup, take an inventory using a camera. That way, you have documentation that can be used for any insurance or other damage claims. Also, prepare for the shock of seeing many of your cherished personal items, furniture, and your property damaged or destroyed by the hurricane or flooding.
Do you have anything else to add? Feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.