As we recover from the damage caused by the recent hurricane, safety needs to be top of mind. We want to avoid the heartbreak of more injury and death from failing to pay attention to basic safety issues as we repair and rebuild. Injury and death can occur from electrocution, carbon monoxide and other poisoning, infections and accidents.
Experts from the American Thoracic Society have provided the following advice for when you reenter a flooded home:
1. Turn off your electricity and gas to avoid shock, electrocution and gas leaks. For information on how to do this click here.
2. Mud and water that has come into your home can contain dangerous bacteria and toxic chemicals. Protect yourself with masks, gloves and glasses until cleanup is complete.
3. Throw away water-soaked carpets and upholstered (soft) furniture to prevent mold growth.
4. Solid materials can be cleaned with water and detergent. Use extreme caution if using bleach. Read labels on household cleaners and avoid mixing them together. Be sure the area you are using them in is well ventilated.
5. If you have an older home that you know or suspect has lead or asbestos, call 1-800-424-LEAD (for lead) or the EPA TSCA Assistance Service at 202-554-1404 (for asbestos) to learn how to make repairs safely. Most houses built before 1978 have lead in the paint.
6. Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems should avoid the area until cleanup is complete.
7. Mold growth (caused by flooding) can be harmful to those with asthma and other breathing problems.
8. Should any new health problems arise during cleanup, contact your doctor.