SIKESTON - When flood waters begin to recede, it is important to use caution when assessing damage and beginning clean-up procedures The American Red Cross reminds the public to play it safe when returning home. Flooding may have weakened a home's foundation, the electrical system may have shorted out, and floodwaters may have left behind things that could make a person sick.
Flood water can be toxic so precautions need to be taken to prevent illness after flooding, according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
According to the Food Safety Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, a person should not eat any food that has come in contact with flood water. The basic rule to follow is: When in doubt, throw it out. Don't risk injury or infection.
Prevent mold and remove wet contents immediately.
Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and any other items holding moisture or water inside the building can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. If an item has been wet for less than 48 hours, help control mold growth by cleaning with a phenolic or pine-oil cleaner (non-ammonia detergent, soap or commercial cleaner) and disinfecting with a 10 percent bleach solution (1-
1/2 cups of bleach in a gallon of water). Items should then be completely dried and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors. If any mold develops, throw the item away.
Thoroughly dry out the building's interior. Portable dehumidifiers are useful, and rental costs may be covered under your flood policy. An air conditioner can also be used to start the drying-out process.
If the walls are damaged, take photographs of the baseboard. Then remove the baseboard. Knock small holes at floor level in the drywall, between the wall studs. This will permit moisture trapped behind the drywall to seep out and start drying.
The walls, floors, closets, shelves, contents and any other flooded parts of your home should be thoroughly washed and disinfected. To clean countertops or other surfaces, wash them with hot soapy water and then rinse. Sanitize them with the drinking water and bleach solution as above and let them air dry.
Residents should be extremely wary of electrical equipment that has been exposed to flood water or other moisture. The power should not be turned back on until it has been inspected by a qualified electrician, officials recommend.
Have the furnace checked for damage. The water heater may work, but if the floodwater covered part or the entire tank, the insulation between the walls may be damaged. Obtain an estimate to replace the damaged furnace and water heater.