Surviving a devastating storm can be an emotionally charged process.
It’s not easy to see your belongings strewn around in muddy waters, knowing how hard you worked to provide these for yourself and your family. With so many memories destroyed, it can be challenging to literally pick up these pieces, deal with insurance claims, and try to bring some semblance of normalcy back into your life
Some people cope immediately by diving head-on to restore their properties back to normal so they can move forward faster. But, before you dive headfirst into picking up the pieces that were smashed by this act of nature, it’s best to put your emotions aside and consider doing these preparations first.
If you feel like you need some guidance on how you can approach this struggle, you may want to read through to learn how to clean your property efficiently after a devastating storm.
First Things First
Before cleaning up, it’s best to assess the situation of your property first. Do a walk-around inspection to see the extent of the damage, and don’t forget to take pictures to document what happened in case you need to deal with insurance claims later on. Try to determine these parts of your property:
Assess the exterior part of your house to check if there are any dislodged parts of the roof, falling debris, window damage, or shingles and gutters that need to be replaced.
Evaluating the size of the damage will help you determine if you’ll need the assistance of utility companies or service providers such as All About Trees. These trade experts can help you clear out toppled trees or broken branches that may fall and do more harm to your property.
If you see no danger in going into your home, try to inspect the appliances inside for damage. Be cautious when handling appliances to avoid electrocution, and be wary if you smell any gaseous odor mixed in the air.
Carefully select what you can salvage and need to dispose of, like wet pillows, stuffed toys, or broken glass from windows and doors.
- HVAC system
One of the most critical systems you need to include in your walk-around inspection is your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Your HVAC system is vital, as the air you breathe and the ventilation inside your home will be affected if ever it’s damaged. If you’re not a licensed HVAC specialist, don’t poke around your furnace, air conditioning (AC) system, or water heater. Just give your equipment a quick assessment, then call your local HVAC professional if you notice any parts missing or if you see any mold growing.
- Wait For Daylight
After experiencing something so horrible, many people would want to immediately pick up the pieces of their life by cleaning up the clutter as soon as the storm has passed. Wait for daylight before taking any action. As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) suggests, it’s better to hold off until it’s bright enough, so you don’t get harmed by wild animals, dislodged nails, falling debris, and other hazardous objects.
- Wear Protective Gear
The next thing to consider is to wear protective gear before you start going through your home. Again, it’s always paramount that you keep yourself safe by wearing even the most basic protective equipment like a hard hat, rain boots with steel-toe, and gloves. Wearing these will protect you from water contaminants, sharp objects, and debris that may fall while you’re going around assessing your home’s surroundings.
Cleaning Your Property Thoroughly
Storms can cause flooding, and should these waters get into your home, you must go through even the smallest crack to ensure no remnants of flood water remains on your property.
For thorough washing, you may need the following cleaning supplies:
- Laundry soap or detergent
- Household all-purpose cleaner
- Commercial bleach
- Commercial sanitizers
- Commercial mildew removers
Avoid any untoward accidents by reading the safety instructions for these cleaning agents before you use any product. Consult specialists if you’re unsure how to use these cleaning products, and always protect yourself from these chemicals.
If you intend to use bleach, don’t mix this with any other household chemical products like toilet bowl cleaner and ammonia to avoid producing poisonous gas. Ensure the area you’re cleaning is well ventilated to prevent any fumes from making contact with your eyes and nose.
Have A Game Plan
Don’t just haphazardly clean your property. Cleaning up after a disaster like a storm can be daunting. By thoroughly planning how you’ll accomplish this task, you’ll be able to maximize the cleaning supplies and save time and energy to do other errands aside from cleaning your home. Here are some tips on how to go about it:
- One Room At A Time
Focusing on one area of your property at a time will ensure you clean and dry even small, hidden corners in your home to ensure you don’t create an environment for molds.
- Two-Bucket Approach
To have a more efficient cleaning method, you may try the two-bucket approach. This method uses one bucket for the cleaner and another for rinsing water. Using this approach keeps your cleaning solution bucket free from dirty rinse water, consequently, a more effective and efficient method to clean your room or any area inside your house. Just ensure that you replace the rinse water frequently to keep it safe from contamination.
After using the said method above in cleaning your belongings or your room, make sure you go over these again with a disinfectant. Floodwaters bring germs and smell that may stick to different parts of your home or items, so it’s best to disinfect twice after a thorough cleaning to kill any mildew, fungi, or mold that were not destroyed on the first phase of cleaning. It’s advisable to give at least a 24-to-48-hour gap between the first and second disinfecting sessions.
- Start From Bottom Up With Walls
When you clean the walls inside your house, it’s best to start from the bottom going up. This strategy ensures that the affected areas get treated first since the bottom part of walls typically have the most damage. For severely damaged walls, replace them with new ones and make sure you wash and disinfect the sills and studs.
- Kitchen Items
Assess the contents of your kitchen and throw out anything that was exposed to water and mud, this includes canned goods, beverages, medicine, food, or liquid inside or outside containers. Throw away anything porous or made of soft plastics, then you must make sure to air dry everything to avoid contamination.
Additionally, disinfect everything, including pots, pans, utensils, dishes, and even the sewer line, to prevent anyone from getting sick.
- Dispose Of Watered-Down Items Or Furniture
If you find stuffed toys, pillows, or furniture that got wet during the storm, it may be a good idea to dispose of these items or have them professionally restored. Keep in mind that watered-down items can harbor mold growth, as a result keeping these moist items around may be damaging to you and your loved one’s health, so it’s best to throw them away.
- Dry Your House
Thoroughly drying your house will take weeks and sometimes even months before you can completely restore your home.
To avoid trapping moisture inside, make sure you take out any wet object and air dry it outside if the weather permits. Look for trapped mud in less visible places like the bottom of shelves, behind benches, or under shower trays. If you’re confident that your HVAC system is devoid of damage, try to use your heater with your windows open to aid in removing moisture from the inside.
If you notice any water lying under your house, try to drain it by digging a pit and pumping out the collected water. If you feel like you’re not that confident in doing this, contact a professional service provider to help you out with these tasks.
- Airflow Is Your Best friend
One of the horrible effects of having experienced a devastating storm is the amount of water that may have found its way inside your house. Excess moisture and humidity create the perfect breeding environment for molds. For that reason, consistent airflow must be maintained in the area during these times.
Mold is a severe concern a homeowner shouldn’t ignore. The aftermath of storms and flooding may result in mold growing on floor tiles, carpets, drywalls, upholstered furniture, and even in stuffed toys and pillows.
The mold growth can start within 24 to 48 hours after storms and floods. Making sure you take action immediately can help prevent mold growth inside your home.
After a devastating storm, cleaning up your property can feel like a burden of responsibility placed on your shoulders. Processing the damage can be a very emotional process for some. Still, in order to finish the task at hand as efficiently as possible, you have to keep your emotions in check and create a systematic plan so you don’t waste time or resources.
The top three fundamental things you have to remember are: clean, disinfect, and dry. These are the significant concerns you’ll need to deal with when cleaning up after a storm. You must keep these three words in mind to prevent anyone from getting sick weeks after you’ve finished cleaning your home. Remember that you’re not alone in resolving this problem; if you feel like you’re not confident enough to do it all by yourself, reach out to friends, family members, or professional service providers who can help you during the process.