Dealing with water damage: mold and mildew

PEARL – If your home has water damage because of Hurricane Isaac, mold and mildew could develop within 24 to 48 hours of water exposure and will continue to grow until steps are taken to eliminate the source of moisture.

Allow the wet or contaminated area to dry completely before beginning to rebuild, replace or return items.

To dry out a water or mold damaged house:

  • Turn off the main power if wiring is wet or moldy. Have an electrician check the house’s electrical system before turning power on again.
  • Open the house to fresh air when the humidity is lower outside than inside. Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture unless mold has already started to grow. Fans may spread existing mold.
  • Use the furnace only if the ducts have not been inundated.
  • Remove all wet items such as furniture, rugs, bedding, toys and carpeting. Throw away all soaked or moldy carpeting. Clean and disinfect other items.
  • Remove all wet or contaminated porous materials such as ceiling tiles, drywall, and wood byproducts.
  • Remove all wet insulation.

Cleaning and disinfecting:

  • Make sure the working area is well ventilated.
  • Wear gloves, mask and protect eyes.
  • If mold is present, clean a small test patch. If you feel your health is adversely affected, consider hiring a professional.
  • Disinfectants are intended to be applies to already cleaned materials.
  • For hard surfaces, wash items with a non-ammonia detergent and hot water.
  • Use a stiff brush on rough surfaces such as concrete.
  • Disinfect all cleaned surfaces with 10 percent bleach solution.
  • Let the solution stay on the surface for at least 10 minutes before rinsing with clear water or allowing to dry.
  • For upholstered furniture, rugs, bedding, clothing, curtains, books and papers and furniture made of pressed particle material – throw out when in doubt.
  • If any one of the above items have been wet for less than 48 hours, it may be able to be cleaned, disinfected with a pine-oil cleaner.

Mold and Mildew
Remember, it is important to document all damage to a home or business, by taking pictures of the inside and outside of the structure, before cleanup or repair activities begin.

Before repairs or reconstruction begins:
Also, before repairs begin, if a home or business is located within a Special Flood Hazard Area, or is in a flood zone that begins with the letter A or V, a permit must be obtained before certain repair or reconstruction work can begin. If work begins without a permit, the property owner may be fined and/or asked to build to higher elevation. If you are not sure of your flood zone, contact your community’s floodplain administrator. A list of floodplain administrators listed by county and community can be found at www.msema.org.

For more information, visit us online at www.msema.org. You can also follow us on Twitter using keyword MSEMA and on Facebook under Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

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