Things to keep in mind after a flood

If your home has been flooded, your problems may not be over after the water recedes. Often there is a lot of cleaning up to do. Flood waters may contain dirt and other contaminants. This can complicate the process.

The Minnesota Department of Health has some things to consider when you are beginning this task.

The most important way to protect your health is to wash your hands thoroughly after touching any object that may be dirty or contaminated, and also before you eat or drink anything or touch your hands to your face.

If there is no running water, bring clean water to the location in clean plastic containers. If there is no clean water, add a tablespoon of bleach per gallon to the available water before washing with it. However, do not drink this water, either before or after adding bleach.

Open and air out any moist or wet areas of the home. Open up all cavities in walls, floors, and ceilings. You may have to release trapped water or flush out mud from these areas. Try to get it dried out within 24-48 hours. Wall board, paneling, and insulation might have to be thrown away and replaced.

If you think you may have materials containing asbestos in your home, call the Minnesota Department of Health at 651/201-4620.

Pull out wet carpets right away, and discard the pads under the carpets. Allow carpets, clothing and bedding to dry in the outside air before trying to clean them. Mattresses, pillows, and upholstered furniture might have to be thrown away if they have been exposed to contaminated water. Be sure both the carpet and the floor are completely clean and dry before putting carpet back into the home.

Discard food from the refrigerator if it has been held at a temperature above 41° F for four hours or more, and frozen food if it has been thawed for more than two hours. Canned food can be saved if the can is sealed and not rusted or bulging. However, if the outside of the can has been exposed to contaminated water, remove the labels and wash the can thoroughly in warm water with detergent and bleach.

Jose Lamas, University of Minnesota Extension


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