After a flooding event, it's only natural that you want to get into your home as quickly as possible to begin cleaning up. Unfortunately, rushing in too quickly exposes you to serious health hazards, even in minor flooding events that only wet your floors and the bases of the walls. Take these four precautions so you can get the clean up work done without putting yourself at risk.
Wear a Dry Suit
An inexpensive chemical resistant dry suit is the best protection you can have for going into a flooded area with unknown contaminants. Flood waters can contain human waste, agricultural chemical runoff, and bacterial and viral agents like E. Coli and Salmonella. Wearing a dry suit prevents you from getting soaked with bacteria and chemical laden water, which is especially important if you have any wounds or other openings in your skin while you're working on clean up. Dry suits also prevent tetanus infections and make it easier to clean yourself at the end of the day.
Invest in Boots and Gloves
Aside from protection for your skin and clothing, you need extra protection for your hands and feet since you could step on a hidden piece of glass or accidentally grab a nail hiding in a puddle of water. Thick rubber boots and gloves protect you both from the water around you and puncture and cut hazards in the debris you're cleaning up. Don't settle for dish gloves or absorbent materials because these products won't offer enough protection.
Bring Bottled Water
Even with all the goggles, chemical resistant suits, and gloves in the world, you still need to wash yourself thoroughly after any exposure to a flooded area, even after the waters are gone. It's often hard to come by clean water on a flood site because ground water supplies are often unsafe until tested and municipal supplies are usually interrupted for the first few days of clean up. Pack along plenty of bottled water so you can wash up with an antibacterial soap immediately after removing your safety gear.
The flood waters and the mold growth triggered by the moisture are far from the only hazards you're facing in this kind of situation. Don't enter your home for clean up until after it has been cleared by your local utility company to ensure there's no gas leaks or other invisible health risks. Bring along portable carbon monoxide and radon detectors to make sure the air is safe to breathe as you work.
For more information or assistance, contact a water clean up team.