What can I do after a flood?
Water carries contaminants and encourages mold to grow. After a flood, those risks may be higher than ever. When we use antimicrobial pesticides to control mold, we add chemical exposure to the list of potential risks. Always follow the label directions when using disinfectants.
Returning home after a flood
- Set priorities, putting safety first. People come first, then animals, then property.
- Open doors and windows. Try to dry out the building as fast as possible. If possible, use fans and/or dehumidifiers.
- Use a stick to poke through debris watching for snakes, rodents, and other displaced animals.
- Plan on disinfecting everything that was wet. Throw away medicines, food, and cosmetics that came in contact with floodwater.
- Check your stored chemicals for leakage, and secure the containers if intact. Think about gasoline, bleach, insecticides, and automotive fluids.
- For tips on drying out your crawl space, visit Dealing with Potential Moisture Problems from North Carolina Cooperative Extension (NCCE).
- For more tips, visit Returning Home after a Disaster and Kitchen Cleanup after the Flood from NCCE.
Cleanup and repair
- Disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces like countertops, windows, and some household items.
- Porous items like drywall, insulation, mattresses, and carpet should be discarded, especially if they remained wet for two days or more. Keep them outside until they can be taken away.
- If your refrigerator/freezer reached a temperature of 40° F, discard the contents.
- Throw away food-handling utensils that could absorb floodwater, such as cutting boards and rubber utensils.
- Consider buying a wood moisture meter. Ventilate and keep wood exposed until the moisture content is 15-19% or lower. Focus on structural timbers first.
- For tips regarding metal items, visit Washing and Sanitizing Kitchen Items from NCCE.
- For tips about furniture, linens and textiles, visit Cleaning Flooded Upholstered Furniture... and Other Household Textiles from NCCE.
Disinfectants, Sterilizers, Sanitizers
- If mold has already taken over, consider hiring professional help. If you decide to do the cleanup yourself, this is a one-page tip sheet for cleaning up mold.
- Select a product with an EPA Registration number. These products have directions that tell you how to kill microbes, including the proper concentrations and timing.
- Always read and follow the label directions carefully.
- Never mix bleach with other chemicals, especially ammonia.
- Make sure the wash water has been cleared for drinking/bathing.
These are just a few of the tips you need to know. Check out the step-by-step field guide from the National Center for Healthy Housing.
Drinking Water and Septic Systems Resources:
If your home was not affected by flooding in your community, consider checking in with neighbors who might need help, such as the elderly or disabled.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated October 11, 2016