After a storm has passed, failure to remove contaminated materials from your home can cause health risks. If there is flooding along with a storm, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) advises homeowners that water must be removed as quickly as possible since it may contain material from overflowing sewage systems.
If there has been a backflow of sewage into the house, the following measures should be taken to ensure proper clean-up:
- Walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces must be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
- Thoroughly disinfect surfaces that come in contact with food and children’s play areas.
- Wash all linens and clothing in hot water or dry-clean.
- Items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, must be air dried in the sun and sprayed thoroughly with a disinfectant.
- Steam-clean all carpeting.
- Fiberboard, fibrous insulation and disposable filters that have contacted floodwater or sewage should be replaced in your heating and air conditioning system.
- Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup.
- As you clean up your home, be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants, as combining certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury or death.
- It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items soaked by sewage or floodwaters may be unhealthy. In general, materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24 to 48 hours should be discarded.