With the invasion of Hurricane Irma, the cleanup in Florida is going to take some time. We are already seeing such amazing stories of communities coming together and helping each other with neighborhood clean up. If you evacuated Florida and you are just now returning, a change in scenery is inevitable. Here are a few things to keep in mind as cleanup commences:
- Assess the situation before entering your property. Make sure where you are stepping is safe from any and all debris that could harm you.
- Take pictures of any damage, inside and out. These will come in handy for insurance purposes.
- If you evacuated, check that it’s safe to return to your community before entering.
- Drive carefully on roads that may contain flood water, fallen trees or power lines and other debris.
- Before you enter your home, inspect the property for damaged power or gas lines and structural damage such as foundation cracks.
- If you smell natural gas or propane, or hear hissing sounds, leave the home and notify your local fire department.
- Check ceilings and floors for sagging, which may indicate water damage.
- Use extreme caution during outdoor cleanup and removal. Watch for falling or shifting trees and debris.
- Wear protective clothing and eye protection during cleanup.
If your home was flooded, dangerous mold can start forming immediately (even from small amounts of water.) Take quick steps (within 24 to 48 hours) to prevent or eliminate mold:
- Open windows and doors to air out and dry your house. Use fans on wet areas.
- Clean any wet items and wipe down all surfaces
- Discard waterlogged items and anything you can’t dry quickly, such as stuffed animals, clothing, rugs or carpets and upholstered furniture.
- If mold is already present, you can clean it with a mixture of bleach and water. Add a cup of liquid household bleach to one gallon of water and mix well. Open windows or doors for ventilation while cleaning, and always protect your hands by wearing rubber gloves. NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners, as they can produce toxic fumes when combined.