Water Restoration , Mold Mitigation
Flood Waters can cause more than just property damage
Flood Clean-Up: Avoid Indoor Air Problems
During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.
This page discusses problems caused by microbial growth, as well as other potential effects of flooding, on long-term indoor air quality and the steps you can take to lessen these effects. Although the information contained here emphasizes residential flood cleanup, it is also applicable to other types of buildings.
Prepare for Clean-up
Obtain a copy of the free booklet, Repairing Your Flooded Home, from the Federal Emerge Management Agency (FEMA) or your local chapter of the American Red Cross (see listings at the end of this fact sheet). Read that booklet carefully before cleanup because it discusses flood safety issues and can save your life. The booklet also contains detailed information on proper methods for cleaning up your home.
This fact sheet provides additional information, not covered in the FEMA/American Red Cross booklet, on indoor air quality concerns related to flooding. Many of the methods used for general cleanup, as detailed in the booklet, are the same as those used to avoid problems with indoor air quality. For brevity, we have not provided detail on the general methods used for cleanup here. This fact sheet is intended to be used in conjunction with the FEMA) American Red Cross booklet.
Avoid Problems from Microbial Growth:
Remove Standing Water
Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can become airborne and be inhaled. Where floodwater contains sewage or decaying animal carcass infectious disease is of concern. Even when flooding due to rainwater, the growth of microorganisms can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. For these health reasons, and to lessen structural damage, all standing water should be removed as quickly as possible.
Dry Out Your Home
Excess moisture in the home is an indoor air quality concern for three reasons:
Microorganisms brought into the home during flooding may present a health hazard. These organisms can penetrate deep into soaked, porous materials and later be released into air or water. Coming in contact with air or water that contains these organisms can make you sick.
- High humidity and moist materials provide ideal environments for the excessive growth of microorganisms that are always present in the home. This may result in additional health concerns such as allergic reactions.
- Long term increases in humidity in the home can also foster the growth of dust mites. Dust mites are a major cause of allergic reactions and asthma.
See Step 4 of the American Red Cross/FEMA booklet, Repairing Your Flooded Home, on steps that should be taken to open up and dry out ceilings, walls, and floors in the home.
Be patient. The drying out process could take several weeks, and growth of microorganisms will continue as long as humidity is high. If the house is not properly, a musty odor signifying growth of microorganisms, can remain long after the flood.
Remove Wet Towels
It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items that were soaked by water may be unhealthy. Some materials tend to absorb and keep water more than others. As a general rule: Materials that are wet and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried should be discarded, as they can remain a source of microbial growth.
Information on the types of water-damaged materials that should be discarded are provided in Step 4 of the American Red Cross/FEMA booklet, Repairing Your Flooded Home. The booklet suggests that you may be able to dry out and save certain building materials (for example, wallboard, fiberglass insulation, and wall-to-wall carpeting that were soaked only with clean rainwater and plaster). You may, however, want to consider removing arid replacing them to avoid indoor air quality problems. Because they take a long time to dry, they may be a source of microbial growth.
In addition, fiberboard, fibrous insulation, and disposable filters should be replaced, if they are present in your heating and air conditioning system and contacted water. (If a fitter was designed to be cleaned with water and was in contact with clean rainwater only, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned before reinstalling.)
Avoid Problems from the Use of Cleaners and Disinfectants
The cleanup process involves thorough washing and disinfecting of the walls, floors, closets, shelves, and contents of the house. In most cases, common household cleaning products and disinfectants are used for this task. FEMA also suggests the use of disinfectants and sanitizers on the duct work for the heating and air conditioning system, if it has been flooded.
Disinfectants and sanitizers contain toxic substances. The ability of chemicals in other household products used for cleaning to cause health effects varies greatly, from those with no known health effect to those that are highly toxic. Read and follow label instructions carefully, and provide fresh air by opening windows and doors. If it is safe for you to use electricity and the home is dry, use fans both during and after the use of disinfecting, cleaning and sanitizing products.
Be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants together. Check labels for cautions on this. Mixing certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury and even death.
Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be lethal at high levels. Carbon monoxide levels can build up rapidly if certain types of combustion devices (for example, gasoline-powered generators, camp stoves and lanterns, or charcoal-burning devices) are used indoors. Do not use combustion devices designed for outdoor use indoors.
Avoid Problems from Airborne Asbestos and Lead Dust
Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur if asbestos-containing materials present in the home are disturbed. Airborne asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings. If you know or suspect that your home contains asbestos, contact the EPA TSCA Assistance Information Service at (404) 562-9143 for information on steps you should take to avoid exposure.
Lead is a highly toxic metal which produces a range of adverse health effects, particularly in young children. Disturbance or removal of materials containing lead-based paint may result in elevated concentration of lead dust in the air, if you know or suspect that your home contains lead-based paint, contact the EPA lead hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD for information steps you should take to avoid exposure.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional 4 Phone: 1-800-241-1754 or (404) 562-9900
- FEMA Public Affairs Phone: (202) 646-4600
- American Red Cross - Publication Number ARC 4477
Warm Weather Energy Efficiency Tips
Ensure air conditioning vents are unobstructed and opened to full capacity.
Get your air conditioning unit serviced to ensure it’s working efficiently.
Clean range-hood grease filter to ensure proper ventilation.
Vacuum refrigerator condenser coils to improve efficiency.
Remember that dark colors absorb heat. You can repel excess heat by using light-colored blinds, shades and draperies on the sunny sides of the house. Make sure the draperies are insulated or lined.
Use natural lighting early in the day and late in the afternoon to reduce your energy usage.
Use ventilated awnings and other shading devices to prevent heat from entering windows exposed to direct sunlight.
Perform activities such as mopping and washing dishes in the coolest part of the day. These tasks add moisture - and heat - to your home in the summer.
Use a bathroom exhaust fan or open a window to remove heat and moisture when the bathroom door is closed. This spares the air conditioner extra work.
Use your kitchen exhaust fan to remove excess heat, moisture and cooking odors. But don't let it run more than 15 minutes after cooking or it will be taking out conditioned air.
Try setting the thermostat at 78 degrees or above during the summer. If you have a ceiling fan, you may be able to raise the temperature to 80 degrees or higher.
Set the thermostat and then forget it. If you change the temperature often during the day, you are more likely to waste energy.
Hang laundry outside to dry during the warm weather. Running the dryer raises the overall temperature of the house and requires a great deal of electricity.
Tornado Safety in Madison County
IF YOU ARE UNDER A TORNADO WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY
If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar.If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
Call us if you suspect any damage in your home or business from tornadoes! We are available in Madison County 365 days a year, 24/7!
Be Cautious During Flooding in Madison County
Failing to evacuate flooded areas, entering flood waters, or remaining after a flood has passed can result in injury or death. Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Floods may:
Result from rain, snow, coastal storms, storm surges, and overflows of dams and other water systems.
Develop slowly or quickly – Flash floods can come with no warning.
Cause outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings, and create landslides.
IF YOU ARE UNDER A FLOOD WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY
Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
Determine how best to protect yourself based on the type of flooding.
When you purchase your commercial insurance package, you probably don't think about getting extra coverage for specific damage to your building in other area that may occur if a powerful storm hits. Your property insurance, however, is unlikely to protect you if your building needs services for damage caused by floodwaters. Flood insurance provides extra support if your commercial property is damaged by a natural flooding disaster.
Property policies usually only cover damage that occurs as the result of an internal cause. For example, if a pipe bursts or a fire breaks out, your property insurance is likely to pay for the repairs you need. Flood coverage is necessary, however, when the water damage is the result of an external cause, such as a thunderstorm, hurricane or water main break. If you live in a Special Hazard Flood Area or an area particularly prone to flooding, you may be required by law to have a separate flood policy. Even if you don't live in a flood plain, if your area experiences seasons of heavy rainfall or snow, it is advisable to build extra protection into your commercial insurance portfolio.
Prepare for Hurricane Season & Flooding!
Are you prepared in case a storm event happens in your area? I know it's easy for us to think "that won't happen to me or my family!" but you honestly never know. Just this past weekend in Alabama we had unexpected flooding throughout the State.
There are many websites you can go to and look at how to become prepared in case of a Hurricane or flooding event. Things such as an evacuation plan, having important documents or medication in a safe place, having bags packed or even moving things to higher places like an attic.
Stay away from flooded areas and do not drive through the water! We want you to keep our number handy and call us if you need us!
Tips to Handle Mold After Water Damage
Mold is often a problem after a water damage. Many homeowners try to handle water damage cleanup themselves and unseen damage leaves moisture that later causes mold to grow.
If you had a water damage recently and you now smell a musty odor or have visible mold, here are some tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help control mold problems:
- The source of mold is moisture; therefore fix all leaks in pipes and in any damp area around tubs and sinks.
- Rebuild, or retrofit, with water-resistant building materials such as tile, stone, deep-sealed concrete, galvanized or stainless steel hardware, indoor/outdoor carpeting, waterproof wallboard and water-resistant glues.
- Prevent seepage of water from outdoors into your house. It is important to have rainwater from gutters or roof drains away from the structure. Ground around the house should slope away to keep basements and crawl spaces dry.
- Cover dirt in crawl spaces with plastic to prevent moisture from coming up from the ground. Ventilate the area as much as possible.
- Clean fabrics such as curtains and upholstery often to keep them dry, because soil promotes mold growth.
- Consider having ductwork cleaned and inspected professionally or replaced if you suspect mold exists on the inside surface of the duct or if duct insulation has been wet.
- Reduce the moisture in the air with dehumidifiers, fans and open windows or air conditioners.
- Do not use fans or vacuum cleaners if mold already exists, especially in hot weather. A fan or vacuum cleaner will spread the mold spores.
- In moisture-prone areas, choose carpets of man-made fibers.
- Reduce potential for condensation on cold surfaces by insulating.
- Routinely check potential problem spots.
For more information, visit www.fema.gov/removing-mold-your-home.
Biohazard and Crime Scene Cleanup in Huntsville
Recognized as a leading fire, water, and mold restoration provider by hundreds of insurance companies, SERVPRO also offers fast and reliable biohazard, vandalism and crime scene cleanup and restoration services.
Exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can pose serious health consequences for building occupants, employees, customers and owners. A failure to properly handle and safely remove such hazardous substances can contribute to unhealthy and even dangerous environments.
SERVPRO of South Madison County technicians are trained to safely and effectively remove hazardous substances and prepare waste for proper disposal according to OSHA, EPA and state and local health regulations.
Equipped with the necessary safety equipment and cleaning products, SERVPRO helps turn unsafe environments into clean, safe homes and offices.
Our services cover the following issues:
- Bloodbourne Pathogens: SERVPRO removes and disposes of bodily fluids, tissue and other potentially pathogenic substance resulting from accident, trauma, crime or death. Technicians clean, disinfect, and deodorize the structure.
- Methamphetamine Labs: Many chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs, are volatile and can leave harmful residues throughout a structure. SERVPRO follows federal and state guidelines to properly clean all surfaces.
- Crime Scene Residues: Fingerprint powder and evidence-gathering chemicals to tear gas and pepper spray residues can be cleaned from surfaces and contents to restore your property.
- Arson and Vandalism: After the fire trucks are gone, your home and belongings likely suffer from not only fire and smoke damage, but also extensive water damage from firefighting efforts. SERVPRO has the specialized fire and water damage cleanup and restoration training and experience to quickly restore your home to pre-fire condition. We also have specific training and equipment for odor removal and deep cleaning of upholstery and carpet.
- Sewage Backups: Water from sewer system backups should be considered very dangerous. The water is grossly unsanitary and may contain bacteria and viruses that could cause serious illness. Special training and equipment is necessary to safely clean this type of contamination. This water is grossly unsanitary and could cause severe illness or death if ingested, and any contact should be avoided. Sources for category 3 water could include flooding from rivers or streams, water from beyond the toilet trap, water from the toilet bowl with feces, or standing water that has begun to support microbial growth.
- Black Water Intrusions: This water is grossly unsanitary and could cause severe illness or death if ingested, and any contact should be avoided. Sources for category 3 water could include flooding from rivers or streams, water from beyond the toilet trap, water from the toilet bowl with feces, or standing water that has begun to support microbial growth.
- May contain untreated sewage, harsh chemicals, and microbes
- Water from flooding rivers or sewer backup
- Mold Mitigation and Remediation: Mold can produce allergens and irritants and has the potential to cause other health effects. Mold can spread quickly through your home or business in as little as 48 hours. If you suspect that your home or business has a mold problem, we can inspect and assess your property. If mold is found, we have the training, equipment, and expertise to remediate your mold infestation.