FORT MONMOUTH N.J. – Residents in flood-damaged homes should begin cleanup as soon as it is safe to re-enter their houses because mold can create serious health problems, according to disaster recovery and health officials.
“Taking the time to clean thoroughly before mold grows is the most important preventive step a homeowner can take,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer, Bill Vogel. “Just because the basement has dried out doesn’t mean there can’t be trouble lurking down the road.”
Care must be taken to clean and completely dry any areas of the home that have gotten wet from floodwaters. Wear gloves and a mask and ventilate the area. Clean wet places immediately using these suggestions:
- Identify the source of moisture and correct it. Mold cannot grow without moisture
- Discard porous materials that already have mold growth (i.e. carpets, drywall, ceiling tiles)
- Thoroughly clean non-porous materials (glass, ceramic, metal and plastic), with a 10 percent solution of household bleach and soap or detergent. Wash down walls, floors and other mold contaminated areas. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and other protective clothing including goggles and air filter masks
- When using bleach be sure the area is well ventilated
- WARNING: Never mix chlorine liquids (bleach) and ammonia
- Remove damaged wallboard at least two feet above the water line
- Change heating and air conditioning filters and have ductwork inspected by a professional
- For large problems, or if you are allergic to mold, a professional should do the work because disturbing mold while cleaning it can cause exposure
- Monitor the area for new mold growth and signs of moisture
Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), everyone should avoid unnecessary exposure to mold, especially anyone at high risk for infection. For more information on mold or mold cleanup visit their website at www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm.
More tips on what to do after a disaster are available online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
If you have health and safety questions regarding flood cleanup, contact your local public health department.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.