Steps To Minimize Flood Damage and Tips To Avoid Health Hazards!
The hurricane season has officially hit. This article has two goals.
- We list and explain the three steps you need to take to minimize flood damage.
- We give you flood advice to avoid health hazards.
Need flood or water damage relief? Call National Restoration, 24/7, (855) 247-3786!
3 Steps To Minimize Flood Damage!
Water is required for all life, including, plants, animals, and humans. In fact, all life is composed of cells which require water to function. Without water, cells can not survive. Human beings are composed of trillions of cells, which rely on water to function properly. Not surprisingly, the human body is made up of 50% to 70% water and this is the reason that it is impossible to live without water.
Ironically, water, the giver of life, is also a destructive force that can cause disease depending on the category of water, property damage, and long term health issues if mold proliferates.
A fungus, mold has cells, but unlike a plant, it does not have chlorophyll and can not make it’s own food relying on dead organic matter to survive. Mold requires three key ingredients to grow:
1. Food, which includes materials high in cellulose content such as paper, wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles, dust, and dirt.
2. Temperatures of 41 degrees to 100 degrees Fahrenheit provide the perfect environment for mold.
3. Finally, water is the key ingredient. Without water and moisture, mold can not grow because it’s cells will not function properly. To prevent mold, you must control moisture.
Mold occurs normally in outdoor environments, serving as nature’s recycling center, breaking down dead organic matter from animals or plants. We encounter mold and inhale mold spores every day and usually do not get sick because the concentration of mold spores is not that high.
Mold causes sickness when it grows in indoor environments primarily because the spore count increases as mold reproduces meaning larger concentrations of spores are inhaled. Considering the job that mold is designed to do, it is not surprising that it is a health hazard.
In addition to the health concerns caused by mold, the other major problem caused by mold relates to structural damage. Once mold begins to grow, like a cancer, it will continue to feed on its host causing wood to rot, roofs to collapse, foundations to buckle, and other structural damage.
To minimize flood damage, you need to be pro-active. Immediate action is essential because mold will begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours of the flood event. With this in mind and to prevent the onset of mold, take these steps when your home begins to flood.
Step 1: Safety
Water and electricity do not mix. Put your own safety first.
Avoid electrical shock.
Keep extension cords out of the water.
Be sure to shut off the breakers in the flooded areas to avoid electrical shocks.
Ask your electrical utility for help if needed.
Step 2: Clean Up
Don’t wait! Mold needs water to grow; it is essential that the clean up process begin immediately.
Contact us immediately because we have the protective gear and equipment to clean up the area properly. The key to preventing excessive mold growth is to remove all the water and begin drying out the area using air movers and dehumidifiers. Most importantly, all contaminated material must be either disinfected or removed permanently.
If you begin the clean up process yourself, we strongly advise the use of rubber gloves, boots, protective clothing, and a respirator.
Step 3: Insurance
Call your insurance adjuster immediately to get the claim process started.
Dealing with a flooding disaster can be overwhelming.
Flood Advice To Avoid Health Hazards
The main goal of water damage restoration is to restore your life and property to the pre-flood condition. Another major concern of restoration professionals, like National Restoration, is to ensure that health hazards and the possibility of mold growth is minimized.
Water Damage Threats
There are three main threats caused by water damage
1. Structural Damage.
2. Mold and the Potential Health Impact.
3. Hazardous Bacteria
Structural Concerns Caused By Water Damage
The main problem with water damage is once the construction materials of the home get wet, then mold will begin to grow and continue to feed on the home ultimately degrading the structural integrity and most importantly reducing the long term value. In short, if mold begins to grow, it is important that it is removed and the cause of the mold growth is fixed to retain the value of the property.
One of the biggest problems encountered by home owners after a flood occurs is when inexperienced restoration contractors reconstruct the property before allowing all of the moisture to dry. Reconstruction after restoration is essential to normalizing your life, but if the property is reconstructed and moisture is still present, then this will simply lead to long term mold problems. The key to avoiding mold growth after a flooded property is restored is to ensure that it is dried completely before any reconstruction occurs.
Signs of moisture issues after a flood, restoration, and reconstruction include the following:
1. Condensation on windows. Condensation is a strong indication that there is moisture and humidity trapped in your home. You can check the humidity levels using a hygrometer and reduce the levels of humidity by always turning on the fans in the kitchen and bathroom, getting your HVAC system inspected, and running a dehumidifier. If these measures do not reduce the moisture and condensation continues to build up, then there may be trapped moisture in the home that is causing excess humidity.
2. Musty odors. If your home was flooded, restored, and reconstructed, and you smell a musty odor, this is a strong indication that mold is growing.
3. Other clues that moisture is present may include water stains, new or increased allergy symptoms, cracked or peeling paint, loose drywall tape or wall paper, rusty metal, and drawers or doors that stick.
The key lesson: if your property is flooded, ensure that it is completely dried out before any reconstruction occurs. This will save you many headaches in the long run.
Health Concerns Caused By Water Damage
The problems caused by mold are not just cosmetic, but also have health implications.
According to mycotoxin expert Dr. Harriet Ammann, exposure to indoor molds can damage the systems of your body in the following ways:
- Vascular: blood vessel fragility, hemorrhage from tissues or lungs
- Digestive: diarrhea, vomiting, hemorrhage, liver damage, fibrosis and necrosis
- Respiratory: trouble breathing, bleeding from lungs
- Neurological: tremors, loss of coordination, headaches, depression, multiple sclerosis
- Skin: rashes, burning, sloughing, photosensitivity
- Urinary: kidney toxicity
- Reproductive: infertility, changes in reproductive cycles
- Immune: Immunosuppression
As documented by interviews with mold survivors, chronic exposure to mold will cause mycotoxicosis. Michael Pinto of Wonder Makers Environmental, an environmental company based in Michigan has published several article on the negative impact that mold has on health:
Evidence of the negative health impact is growing, so you need to be aware of this and make sure that if you experience a flood, that your restoration contractor is diligent in ensuring that your restoration and reconstruction is done properly.
Hazardous Bacteria Concerns Caused By Water Damage
When you experience water damage, the longer you take to begin dealing with it, the worse the situation will get for two key reasons.
First, mold only needs 24 hours to begin growing.
Second, standing water provides the ideal environment for harmful bacteria to begin growing. Category 1 water can turn into Category 2 water and eventually Category 3 water, which is the most toxic and causes many illnesses.
Act Immediately and Most Importantly, Hire National Restoration!
Have you ever noticed that whenever there is a major flood, all of a sudden there are more mold remediation and restoration companies that begin offering services? This is not a coincidence. Unfortunately, due to the lack of regulation in our industry, whenever a natural disaster occurs leading to wide spread flooding, many contractors without much disaster restoration experience will begin offering these services to try to cash in on the quick buck.
To avoid the pitfalls of hiring fly-by-night operators who do not offer a guarantee and lack experience, hire a professional like National Restoration that has years of experience, specialized training, equipment, and a solid reputation in the community. Experienced contractors will provide you with a recovery plan of action that outlines what will be done to address the water damage and prevent mold growth. The plan will outline the following for you:
- An assessment of the category of water and extent of damage;
- A scope of work that will assess structural issues based on the class of damage;
- Content removal and cleaning plan;
- Steps required to remove excess water;
- A drying and monitoring strategy using air movers and dehumidifers; and
- A sanitizing plan to ensure a healthy environment.
Furthermore, we do not recommend that you begin the cleanup or tear up yourself, particularly because of the potential hazards that asbestos may cause if asbestos containing materials become air borne. However, if you have contacted a professional and are waiting for them to arrive and must begin some of the clean up yourself, take the following precautions:
- Have the area cleared by emergency workers if you have standing water in an area where fuse boxes and/or electrical circuitry is submerged before attempting to pump out the water.
- Turn off your gas line.
- Wear an N95 or N100 respirator mask, available at most hardware and medical supply stores.
- Wear rubber boots and puncture-resistant gloves. Ideally, don a polypropylene coverall.
- Be sure to carefully dry any belongings you want to try to save.
- Items that should be thrown out, particularly if they have been underwater include the following: carpet, carpet padding, and rugs; upholstered furniture; computers, microwaves, window A/C units, or any appliances that have fans; papers and books; and food items, including canned foods if they were in contact with flood waters.
The primary purpose of water damage restoration is to restore the property to pre-loss condition. Before the reconstruction phase of the project begins, we recommend that you consult with an environmental consultant to do post remediation tests, particularly if there was any mold, category 2 or 3 water present. This is an important step before reconstruction because it will verify that the water damage restoration was done properly.
Got Flooding or Mold Questions?
National Restoration is here to help! We have 1000s of satisfied customers! Call (855) 247-3786 or contact us via e-mail. We look forward to serving you! 🙂
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