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Safely clean, dry home before restoring after flood

Media contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (6/26/2012) —After the flooding of their homes, residents want to repair the damage and return things to the way they were as quickly as possible. University of Minnesota Extension housing educator Richard Stone advises that caution and attention to detail are as important as acting quickly as recovery begins.

To ensure the best possible outcome for your flooded property, consider these tips Stone offers:

  • When returning to your home after it has been flooded your first priority should be personal safety. Make sure that the gas and electricity are turned off and not turned back on until the electrical system and gas appliances have been checked by professionals and are in safe operating condition again.
  • After the gas and electricity are off, inspect the outside of the building for structural damage before entering. Wear sturdy waterproof boots, waterproof gloves, protective clothing, and use an N-95 respirator mask when working in flooded and contaminated areas.
  • Remove mud, water, and water-soaked contents as quickly as possible and wash and try to disinfect walls and floors within 48 hours. Never mix bleach and ammonia cleaning products as the combination creates toxic fumes which could be deadly in enclosed spaces. Dry the surfaces by moving air through the building with fans, or by using dehumidifiers.
  • Enclosed walls, floors, and ceiling that have been flooded will need to be opened to remove wet insulation and other absorbent building materials. Remember to clean furnace ducts and other enclosed areas that have been flooded.
  • Wells should be decontaminated before use and flood-damaged septic systems restored to functional condition before use.
The entire drying process may take weeks or months and must be thoroughly completed before restoration begins. Enclosing parts of the building that have not completely dried could cause additional moisture damage to the home.

More details on the flood recovery process are available at Extension's flood recovery website

Source: Richard Stone, Housing Technology Educator, University of Minnesota Extension

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