Sandy aftermath brings familiar problem: mold
Tips for cleanup
FREEHOLD, NJ -- In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Monmouth County residents who have suffered flood damage have to take precautions against mold.
“Mold can damage your home, possessions and cause health problems,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the Monmouth County Health Department. “The longer you allow mold to grow, the greater the risk and the more difficult the cleanup. As soon as it is safe to return home, you should begin cleaning and drying your home and possessions.”
“Under the right conditions, molds produce spores that spread easily through the air to form new mold growths, or colonies,” said Michael Meddis, Monmouth County’s public health coordinator. “These conditions are moisture, nutrients (nearly anything organic) and a place to grow.”
Usually you do not need to have the mold tested and tests are rarely useful to answer questions about health concerns. However, some insurance companies and legal services may require sampling for documentation if you are filing a claim.
The best way to avoid mold hazards is to hire a reputable firm that is licensed and trained in dealing with water damage and mold remediation. As that may be difficult after a disaster, you may have to do the cleanup yourself. If so, follow these steps:
- First take an inventory. Compile a room-by-room inventory of missing or damaged goods, and include prices, manufacturer’s names, and dates and places of purchases. Take photographs to document the damages for insurance purposes.
- Remove wet carpeting right away. It’s best to discard wet carpeting. If you do salvage it, clean, disinfect and dry it quickly. Never reuse flooded padding.
- Remove and discard: all items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpet padding, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and paper products).
- Remove and discard: drywall and insulation that was contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
- Thoroughly clean: all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
- Dry all wet materials as quickly as possible. If possible, use air conditioning or heat with fans and dehumidifiers. If you have no power and can get access to a generator, use the generator to run a dehumidifier indoors to help remove moisture from the air.