Flood waters and standing waters pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries. When returning to your home after a flooding emergency, be aware that flood water may contain sewage. |
The dirty water, mud and silt that floods bring into our homes, backyards, streets, parks and local playgrounds can cause a range of conditions, including diarrhoeal disease and skin and soft-tissue infections.
Mould will also be an issue for many people after the recent rains, even those who have not been affected by floodwaters.Mold spores can germinate and grow in a moist or damp environment, on any surface that contains organic matter. A home that's been flooded can provide ideal conditions for the growth and proliferation of mold.
Clean-up and Removal of Mold: The basic steps
Identify and remove any sources of moisture. This is the most important – and the most basic – thing you need to do. Mold can't grow without moisture. And don't forget to look for sources of moisture that aren't related to the flood. Begin drying any and all materials that got wet. Do this as soon as possible. After the floodwaters have receded, water-soaked building materials and household items can be a significant ongoing source of moisture, promoting the growth of mold. They should be rapidly dried or removed from the building if possible. For severe moisture problems, use fans and dehumidifiers, and move wet items away from walls and off floors. Check with equipment rental companies or restoration firms to see if you can rent fans and dehumidifiers. However, to avoid spreading mold spores, do not operate fans if visible mold is already present. Remove and dispose of mold-contaminated materials. Look for mold on porous items that may have absorbed moisture– including sheet rock, insulation, plaster, carpet/carpet pad, ceiling tiles, wood (other than solid wood), and paper products. If you see evidence of mold, these items should be removed, bagged and thrown out. Porous materials that may have been in contact with sewage should also be bagged and thrown away. Non-porous materials can be saved if they are properly cleaned and dried and then kept that way. Clean non-porous or semi-porous items. Mold can grow on materials like hard plastic, concrete, glass, or metal – but it can usually be removed with careful cleaning. Solid wood items can also be salvaged through cleaning, if they are structurally sound. Bear in mind that mold spores and particles can cause health problems even if they're dead. For that reason, when you clean an item, the objective is to capture and remove the mold contamination.
It's also important to remove sources of moisture that are allowing mould to grow. After flooding, clean and disinfect all affected surfaces inside the house, including floors, walls, the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, the department advises.
The stagnant water left behind by floods and rain also provides an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of the mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.Even those living in areas that haven't been directly affected by flooding could experience an increase in the incidence of mosquito-borne viruses or household mould, which can make some people quite ill.
The mud brought in by floodwaters also makes surfaces – such as footpaths, roads and floors – very slippery and falls are not unusual in flood clean-ups. Good shoes can help prevent falls as can using a walking pole (a broom stick does the job).
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