Tips & Ideas

Responding Quickly to Floods

If your Chicago-area company has experienced flooding, fast cleanup is critical from both health and business perspectives. It’s extremely important to address damage from water as soon as possible.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are certain health issues that might be related to flood residue or the related growth of microbes. These include gastrointestinal infections, skin rashes, respiratory infections, and wound infections, among others. It makes sense to try and minimize the exposure to these substances to help prevent the chances of people developing these health issues.

In addition to the sanitation-related problems, flooding also slows down your business, which is never a good thing. Water damage, cleanup, and restoring your company space to normal will significantly cut into the time you need to be spending serving your clientele. Getting things taken care of quickly is critical, but doing the cleanup the right way is equally important.

Response time needs to be immediate when flooding hits for a number of different reasons, and Brackenbox has put together some things to keep in mind if you find yourself facing damage from water in your building for whatever reason. We hope you’ll find these items helpful.

Salvageable items

There are certain items that flooding doesn’t damage permanently, and these things can be saved and removed from the cleanup site. Nonporous items such as plastic, glass, and metal are typically impervious to water and can be salvaged from the flooded section of the building. These items may still be damaged from falls or from water moving them around against other things, but if they are intact, they can usually be saved.

It’s important to note that even though these items are nonporous, they can still be contaminated on the exterior if there is sewage or bacteria in the water. All of the salvaged items should be thoroughly dried, cleaned, and disinfected before they are used or put back into place again. It’s best to do this as soon as possible to make sure they aren’t mixed in with other items without being properly treated.

Contaminated materials

If the flooding includes sewage, this then becomes a health hazard and should be treated as such. Raw sewage can contain parasites, bacteria, and viruses, so it should be viewed as infectious and handled with the appropriate type of equipment. If flooding contains sewage materials, it may be a good idea to hire professional help to clean up the area to make sure it is done correctly and completely. Companies that specialize in dealing with sewage know all the specifics in terms of how this material should be handled and disposed of, and they can often do this work quickly.

Any building that has experienced flooding and exposure to sewage water will also need to have everything disinfected to make sure any dangerous substances are not lingering behind. Porous materials that have been exposed to this type of water should be thrown away, as they can’t be cleaned properly.

Mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are another source of concern whenever there is flooding in a building. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has found that mold and mildew begin growing just 24 to 48 hours after water exposure, making fast cleanup crucial. These substances can cause health issues for people who have sensitivities, so appropriate measures should be taken to protect the lungs if mold is thought to be present at the time of cleanup.

Things such as wet carpet will most likely need to be cut up, rolled, and discarded. Once mold spores begin to grow in this type of porous material, it is not possible to get them out. Basically, FEMA’s 24- to 48-hour mark is a good guideline to follow. If something cannot be dried out and cleaned in that time, it probably will need to be discarded. These items should be taken out of the building completely and placed for garbage pickup, or in a roll-off dumpster if there is a larger amount than your waste removal company will take.

Safety information

It’s important to remember that flooded buildings can be dangerous. If you or anyone from your company is going into a building that has undergone damage from a flood, caution should be used and water should be assumed to be contaminated unless it has been proven otherwise. Here are a few resources to check out if you decide you want to do any of the cleanup yourself:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – This list of 8 Tips to Clean Up Mold provides some good basics for those faced with a flooded area.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration – This OSHA Fact Sheet highlights information about how to protect yourself when going into a flooded building, as well as some smart safety tips.
  • Brackenbox – Visit our site if you require dumpsters for cleanup and removal of carpet and other materials. We provide 24/7 emergency services if you need help.

Contact us for emergency dumpster drop off!