In response to historic flooding in South Carolina, FLASH offers the following flood safety and cleanup tips for families.
1: Avoid flooded areas or those with rapid water flow. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet.
2: Don’t allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Hidden dangers could lie beneath the water.
3: Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Water only two feet deep can float away most automobiles.
4: Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
5: Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flooded roads.
After the Flood: Structural Considerations
6: Outside –
- Check for building stability before entry – sticking doors at the top may indicate a ceiling at risk of collapse.
- Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.
- Assess stability of plaster and drywall – any bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage that should be removed. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved.
- To prevent warping of wooden doors, remove, and disinfect all knobs and hardware, and lay flat and allow to air dry completely.
- Remove wet drywall and insulation well above the high water mark.
After the Flood: Insurance Tips
8: Take extensive photos and video for insurance claims. Only flood insurance typically covers damage from floods.
9: Remove damaged items from the home. If you need evidence of damage, save swatches (carpet, curtains, etc.) for your insurance adjuster
After the Flood: Mold & General Clean Up
10: Wash and disinfect all surfaces, including cupboard interiors with a solution of 1/2 cup bleach to two gallons of water. Remove sliding doors and windows before cleaning and disinfect the sliders and the tracks.
11: Clean and disinfect concrete surfaces using a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water. Mix according to manufacturer’s directions and apply to entire surface.
12: Liquid cleaners can remove mud, silt, and greasy deposits. Liquid detergents work on washable textiles. Use diluted bleach if item is safe for bleach.
13: The National Archives has information on how to clean up your family treasures. Although it may be difficult to throw certain items away, especially those with sentimental value, experts recommend that if you can’t clean it, you should dispose of it, especially if it has come into contact with water that may contain sewage
After the Flood: Home air quality considerations and mold prevention
14: Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning, and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores.
15: Use fans and allow in sunlight to dry out interior spaces.
16: To avoid growth of microorganisms, household items should be dried completely before they are brought back in the house. Although the drying process can take a long time, homeowners should be patient because it is necessary to keep a home’s air quality healthy. Some household items may take longer than others to dry, such as upholstered furniture and carpets.
17: Remove wallpaper and coverings that came into contact with floodwaters. Don’t repaint or repair until drying is complete and humidity levels in the home have dropped.