State emergency management and public safety officials are advising Indiana residents to practice caution as they continue to recover from flooding that began last week. Standing flood water in homes and other buildings poses a serious risk as it can cause contamination issues and lead to mold. It is important to stay out of homes until the water has completely receded. Wading or walking through flood water is never safe. When cleaning homes, workplaces or other buildings after a flood, be sure to wear the proper protective equipment to reduce the risk of injury and illness. Below is a list of protective equipment to consider:

  • Comfortable, form fitting, light weight clothing including long pants and a long sleeved shirt.
  • Watertight boots with a steel toe and insole. Tennis shoes should not be worn because they will transfer contamination and will not prevent punctures or crush injuries.
  • Waterproof, cut-resistant work gloves.
  • Goggles, safety glasses with side shields or full face shields.
  • Respirator or protective mask.
  • Safety Checks before Cleaning the Home

Before entering the home after a flood, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage. If power lines are down outside, do not step in puddles or standing water. If there is a smell of natural or propane gas or if a hissing noise can be heard, leave immediately and call the fire department.

If conditions around the house look acceptable to enter, turn off the electricity and dry wet electrical fixtures before turning the electricity back on.

Preventing Mold

Any items that have been wet for two or more days should be removed from the home to help prevent mold from forming. Items that cannot be salvaged after a flood and must be thrown away include wet ceiling tiles, paper products, baseboards, gypsum board (also known as drywall) and insulation. Carpets may be saved by wet vacuuming, shampooing and making certain the carpet is completely dried following the cleaning process. Mattresses or other large items soaked with flood water will likely need to be discarded. Some mattresses can be salvaged after disinfecting and air-drying.

Mold can start growing in just two days, even if it can’t be seen. Use a mixture of bleach and water (but no more than a cup of bleach per gallon of water) to clean rigid items such as floors, stoves, sinks and countertops. It is important to note that the bleach and water mixture is not a suitable sanitizing method for wood.

For more information on how to clean a home to prevent mold after a flood, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website: http://www.in.gov/isdh/23581.htm. For more safety information on recovering from the recent flooding in Indiana, visit http://in.gov/dhs/4055.htm.