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How to clean up your home after a flood |

How to clean up your home after a flood

Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com

Editor’s note: This ABS-CBNnews.com article was originally published in 2011, following the onslaught of typhoons Pedring and Quiel in the country.


MANILA, Philippines – ABS-CBNnews.com has compiled tips on how to clean up your home and personal belongings after a flood.

General

1. Shovel out as much mud as possible. Use a hose or garden sprayer to remove mud from hard surfaces.

2. Clean and disinfect every surface using hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner or a bleach solution (two tablespoons of bleach for every one gallon of warm water). If you do not want to use bleach, mix a teaspoon of lavender oil and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid per liter of water in a spray bottle.

3. Use strong fans to circulate the air and to help the house dry out faster.

4. Remove wallpaper, wallboards, plaster and paneling soaked in floodwater as these may be a permanent health hazard.

5. Remove broken glass from window frames and replace these with new ones.

6. Floor coverings (vinyl, linoleum, carpet) must be removed so the floor can dry thoroughly. Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible using bleach solution. Discard these if under water for more 24 hours or more.

7. Wooden floors should be dried gradually as sudden drying could cause cracking or splitting.

8. Photograph everything in your house before touching it and catalogue everything for insurance purposes.

Kitchen, bathroom items

1. Immerse glass, porcelain, china, plastic and enamel dinnerware in a disinfecting solution (two tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water) for 10 minutes. Do not use a towel — air-dry the dishes instead.

2. Disinfect silverware, utensils and pots and pans in boiling water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach should not be used since it may cause metals to darken.

3. Clean cupboards and counters with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.

4. Dispose of all paper utensils exposed to flood waters.
All packaged and unpackaged food items, medicines, medical supplies and cosmetics exposed to floodwaters should be discarded.

Furniture and household items

1. Brush dirt and mud off bedding and rugs and rinse in cool water. Use enough detergent to keep soil from redepositing on fabrics.

2. Take bedding and rugs out to dry. Use a fan, dehumidifier or an air conditioner, or open windows to remove moisture.

3. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then rinse with a disinfectant.

4. Throw away mattresses and pillows soaked in floodwater (except for those made of foam rubber) as well as wood-veneered furniture and stuffed animals. Have upholstered furniture cleaned by a professional.

5. Photographs, books and other documents should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off, store these in plastic bags and put them in a freezer to protect from mildew and further damage. You can also take these to a professional.

Electronics

1. The electrical system must be shut off and repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring, including those behind walls, must be completely dried out. Check if switches, outlets, panels and junction boxes are filled with mud.

2. Hire a professional to clean appliances such as televisions, radios, washing machines, etc. The plastic exterior of these items may be hand cleaned.

Safety

1. Do not wade in floodwaters unless you are sure that the electrical system in your home is turned off. Keep children away from the area.

2. Wear rubber boots and gloves during cleanup. Walk slowly and carefully as the floor may be extremely slippery.

3. Make sure all electronic items are dry before use.

4. Make sure that the gas supply has been shut off. If you are unsure, contact your local gas company.

5. Do not smoke or eat while working in a flood-contaminated area.

6. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling contaminated items. Protect any existing cuts in the skin so as not to come into contact with floodwaters.

Sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The Weather Channel
  • Flood Safety
  • Today
  • Seattle and King County
  • Milwaukee Health Department
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