As of August 31, 2017 the City of Houston Office of Emergency Operations Center announced that:
"People who experienced flooding
but are now able to enter their homes safely can begin cleaning and sanitizing their homes."
I strongly advise anyone interested in information to visit the City of Houston's Emergency Operations Center website . The website is updated and specific for the cities needs. I have quoted below information directly from the website as relates to the topic of this post. I have also expanded giving you my own information beyond that. There are 10 more things you can do to stay safe. Keep reading to find out.
From City of Houston Emergency Operations Center:
The Houston Health Department urges people impacted by Harvey flooding to take steps to stay safe and healthy. Good hygiene and food safety are of utmost importance:
Practice good hygiene such as hand-washing after any contact with floodwaters. Wash children's hands frequently, especially before meals.
Do not allow children to play in floodwater areas.
Do not eat any food that was in contact with floodwaters.
People who experienced flooding but are now able to enter their homes safely can begin cleaning and sanitizing their homes.
If rain or floodwaters got into your home, take steps to prevent mold growth. First, wash surfaces with soap and warm clean water to remove dirt and debris. Next, sanitize surfaces with household bleach. Clean it with a solution of 1 cup household liquid bleach per 5 gallons of water. Remember:
Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.
Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, counter-tops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers."
Please consider the following additional information:
Ten Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe:
1. Every day that passes increases the need for safety. Research conducted after Hurricane Katrina showed that many of the disaster recovery volunteers working in the days and weeks after the disaster did not properly protect themselves and had an increased risk of having long lasting adverse health effects. Help me to spread the word by sharing this blog post with everyone you know.
2. Flood waters inundated sewage systems. This has resulted in sewage related gram negative bacteria being spread into flooded buildings. Personal protection and good personal hygiene are important to keep you healthy. The primary exposure for these organisms is hand to mouth contact. Touching a contaminated surface and then your face risks consuming harmful bacteria. Wearing an N-95 disposable face-piece respirator can reduce your inhalation of harmful particles by approximately 80%, and will also help keep your hands or other contaminated materials from unconsciously touching your mouth.
3. If areas of your home have remained damp for more than a few days, then enough time has passed that mold growth is likely to have begun. A musty odor tells you that mold or other micro-organisms are growing and that materials remain wet. Do not ignore these odors. Ignoring or covering these odors up with air fresheners will only allow the problems to worsen.
4. The use of chlorine bleach or other biocides will not prevent mold growth. These chemicals are primarily used to help reduce bacteria, but have to be used properly in order to be effective. In order to prevent mold growth your home must be dry. For more information about how to use cleaning products effectively please visit my Indiegogo research project where you can receive chapters from my upcoming book as a perk.
5. Consider the risk of Lead Based Paint when removing and discarding painted construction materials from homes built prior to 1978. EPA's information booklet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home provides helpful advise to consider if your damaged home might have lead.
6. Asbestos is still present in some construction materials used for constructing new homes, but was widely used in homes built prior to 1980. EPA has general asbestos health and safety information. The Texas Department of State Health Services oversees asbestos regulations and has information about asbestos legal requirements in the State of Texas.
7. Center Point Energy is reporting 99.77% of customers have had power restored to their property as of the morning of September 3, 2017. Electricity to 4,600 flooded homes has been deliberately disconnected due to safety concerns. This means there are many homes that got wet that now have power. If you are removing wall board and insulation or going to perform work around any energized circuit make sure you shut off the power at the breaker.
8. Unplug all electrical appliances that got wet and don't use them until they are completely dry and determined to be safe. In most cases electrical appliances that got wet will need to be discarded although some such as lamps may be able to be cleaned and rewired.
9. Do not reconstruct your home until you know the remaining materials are completely dry. You cannot judge if wood framing is dry by feeling it with your hand. It is necessary to use a moisture meter. The average wood equilibrium moisture content (EMC) in Texas is approximately 11%. It is generally recommended that wood be dried to within two to four percentage points of the EMC. If the EMC is over 16% paper covered gypsum wall board paper will develop mold grow.
10. Prior to reconstruction your home should be thoroughly cleaned to remove residual mold and other contaminants. According to the EPA in Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings: "The purpose of mold remediation is to remove the mold to prevent human exposure and damage to building materials and furnishings. It is necessary to clean up mold contamination, not just to kill the mold. Dead mold is still allergenic, and some dead molds are potentially toxic. The use of a biocide, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice during mold remediation, although there may be instances where professional judgment may indicate its use."
11. Spread the Word
There is one more thing you can do. Most of the information provided here for keeping your family safe after the Hurricane is time sensitive. Because of this, I am asking for your help in spreading the word to anyone who may find this information useful. Please share this post to all your social media networks and tell your friends. My sincerest thanks for your support.