Prevent further damage after a flood

A flood-damaged home requires special attention to avoid further damage and health hazards from molds, other fungi, algae and bacteria, according to Claudette Reichel, LSU AgCenter housing specialist.

“Wetness and high humidity spur their growth within two to three days,” she said, “So it’s essential to act fast after a flood.”

Mold and other fungi are bad for the house and for the occupants. Mold spores are an allergen and some types of molds produce mycotoxins. Decay-causing fungi grow in wood that stays wet for an extended period, causing it to lose strength.

“In a nutshell, a wet house is soon an unhealthy house and eventually a rotting house,” Reichel said. “To make matters even worse, secondary damage may be excluded from coverage on your flood and homeowners insurance.”

A flooded home should be cleaned and dried quickly and thoroughly to prevent mold and future damage by wood rot.

Because flood water may be contaminated with sewage or other biological pollutants, it’s advisable to safely disinfect, too.

Areas wetted by clean rainwater, for instance from a leaking roof, may not need to be disinfected. However, all wet areas should be allowed to dry thoroughly before being covered or enclosed, Reichel said.

A professional water-damage restoration contractor with special drying equipment is the best and safest way to go. Yet, after a flood, many homeowners don’t have that option.

For safety, wear protective clothing on legs, arms, feet and hands while cleaning up debris. Wear rubber gloves and goggles while handling flood-damaged items.

Buildings constructed before 1978 may have lead-based paint. Sanding or scraping this paint creates a serious health hazard. Visit www.epa.gov/lead for more information about lead-based paint before disturbing it.

“If you hire a contractor to do any work that could disturb paint, be sure the contractor is certified by EPA as a Lead Certified Renovator,” she said.

See and learn more about taking care of your home after a flood at www.LSUAgCenter. com/LaHouse and by visiting the LaHouse Resource Center in Baton Rouge.

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