Preventing and cleaning mold and mildew after a storm
“After a flood, lots of surfaces in your house can mildew. Porous materials, such as carpeting and drywall, are especially vulnerable,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.
Molds and mildews can cause damage to your home. People with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions may be especially sensitive to mold. Others with suppressed immune systems may also be more sensitive.
As a first step, contact your insurance company and document the conditions with photos or a video, Peek said.
Then, begin assessing the water damage. If it is excessive or if the mold covers more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Agency’s “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings” (http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html).
In cases where flood waters are contaminated with sewage, for example, contact a professional with experience in this area.
The key to preventing mold and mildew is to dry out your home as quickly as possible.
“Weather permitting, open the house to help dry it out. Leave the doors to all rooms and closets open, along with any drawers and cabinets,” Peek said. “Curtains should be left open to take advantage of circulating air and sunshine.”
It also is important to thoroughly clean all hard, nonporous surfaces with soap and water. To clean surfaces inside your home, use a mild detergent and water.
“As a precaution while you’re cleaning, you can wear an N-95 respirator,” Peek said. “Gloves will protect your hands, especially when cleaning with soap and water, while goggles can protect your eyes.”
When possible, consider leaving damp items in the sun, which will help dry them more quickly.
For more information about acting quickly to avoid mold and mildew, contact the county Extension office.
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