Noticeable shifts in climate patterns have caused nightmares for homeowners and business men alike, as sudden storms raged across the country wreaking havoc in their path. Prolonged torrential rains, strong winds and flash floods have caused severe water damage to homes, buildings and properties. Damages were estimated to reach billions of dollars and are expected to increase more in the years to come. More tragic are the hundreds of lives that have been lost due to these floods.
Just recently, strong hurricanes rolled across several states and cities in the US. These resulted to severe flooding at public and private areas. Waters rose rapidly to waist-deep level in just minutes, creating swimming pools out of parking lots and endangering lives of people in these affected communities. Some residents even say that they have never seen anything like it more than 10 years of living in those affected areas. After the storms, home owners and business people alike were faced with the daunting task of water damage restoration to their homes, buildings and properties. This also includes water cleanup work for public areas like roads, parks, and government buildings and establishments.
On top of the water damage to properties that unexpected flooding brings, homes and buildings can also be placed under great risks from mold and mildew infestations particularly if the restoration efforts were delayed or were postponed for a later time. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has classified molds as health risks that can cause various respiratory, skin and internal infections to humans. These health hazards, if not stemmed immediately, can result to more complex diseases that would put lives in danger. Immediate mold remediation should be performed on affected areas to prevent the onset of such complications.
To combat molds effectively, the homeowner should first understand how molds behave and how they impact the environment. Molds are tiny microorganisms that thrive on dead, organic materials like wood, leaves, leather, paper and fiber, Molds digest these food sources by releasing mycotoxins that were proven to be hazardous to people. Molds are attracted to wet and damp surfaces, and releases spores into the air to proliferate and reproduce. Materials and surfaces that have been exposed to flooding are ideal breeding grounds for molds.
Molds appear as a layer of discolored substances on top of affected surfaces. They can appear in a variety of colors and texture. Molds can emit a distinctly strong, musky and pungent odor. Typically, molds can be seen at the top surface, but they are also know to thrive in inner layers or back panels, like the sub-layered fibers of carpets or behind walls and partitions.
The following survival kit discusses simple and inexpensive tools and procedures that every household should know and have to effectively fight molds and prevent infestations. In any mold remediation work, safety of the individual should be the utmost priority and should always be the first consideration. Babies, elderly, sick people and those with allergies should be relocated to a safe location. They should be brought to a place away from the affected area while mold remediation is being performed.
Gloves made from rubber or latex should be used at all times during mold remediation. Do not let molds come in contact with skin to prevent irritations. Harmful pathogens can also be ingested through skin pores and may result to allergies, dermatitis and even edema. This sickness is an abnormal accumulation of fluids underneath the skin which usually result to sores and blisters. Use heavy duty industrial gloves to prevent tearing. Always keep in mind to change sets occasionally particularly if the one you’re using has been severely contaminated with molds. Wear gloves according to your hand size to prevent loose fingers from flopping around if they’re too big, or difficult and uncomfortable to wear if they’re too small. Choose gloves with a soft absorbent lining to prevent dampness of the skin while in use.
Eye protection is necessary when performing mold remediation. Molds can cause severe eye irritations that can lead to complications that can endanger eyesight. Choose heavy-duty goggles with splash protector to prevent penetration while working on molds. Glass or plastic types can do as long as they are durable and properly sized for your face.
People with respiratory problems should never work with molds, or perform mold remediation activities. If ingested through breathing, molds can cause severe coughing and wheezing, difficulty in breathing, sinus and nasal congestion. Complications can lead to severe allergies, asthma and even pulmonary emphysema or the collapse of the lungs. To avoid this, people working on mold remediation should always wear masks. Respirators with microbial or HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters provide the best protection. It would also be best to use masks that are OSHA approved. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA certifies masks and other protective clothing and gear.
Molds can occur on walls, floors, ceilings and any other surfaces that have been contaminated by floodwater. The best way to remove infestations is to vigorously scrub them off by brushes with sturdy bristles. However, the type of brushes to be used should depend on the surface to be cleaned. Heavy-duty nylon brushes are ideal for cement, stonework or other hard, porous surfaces. Materials that are prone to scratches like wood and wooden furniture should be cleaned with soft-bristled brushes. It would also be beneficial to use brushes with separate handles for easier handling and to isolate the contaminated brushes away from hands and fingers.
When brushing surfaces to remove molds, start from the highest level then work your way down. This is to prevent removed residues from coming back or settling once more on surfaces that have already been cleaned. Brushing motion should be in one direction only and not back-and-forth movements to prevent spread of contamination. It would also be easier to check on surfaces if cleaning has been effective by using this method.
Some areas affected with molds are hard to reach or could not be accessed by standard cleaning brushes. This can be remedied with the use of an ordinary toothbrush. If too short, they can be extended by taping wooden sticks or plastic tubes to the handles. They are however not very durable when used with rough surfaces and should be replaced immediately as needed.
Chlorine-based bleaches are readily available household chemicals that can be used as a preliminary disinfectant for mold. Common household bleaches are diluted in nature and will not totally kill molds and spores. They are, however, good cleaning agents particularly when removing molds from surfaces. Bleach can be mixed with detergents and can be used as cleaners. Never mix bleach with ammonia, as the combination could cause chemical reactions that could be toxic to humans. Used this solution in conjunction with brushes to effectively remove molds and prevent the proliferation of spores.
Household detergents or dishwashing liquids can be used as good cleaners when performing mold remediation activities. Used as is, they can be effective in removing dirt, mold and other debris left by the floodwaters. More potency can be achieved by mixing bleach and detergent in warm water and used as a cleaning solution. Use this cleaning solution together with scrubbing brushes to remove mold infestations away from affected areas and surfaces.
Chemical Mold Cleaners
Some type of molds may require specialized cleaners in order to clean and disinfect them completely. Examples are black molds that are known to proliferate within 24 to 48 hours and can be very hazardous to humans if ingested. There are effective disinfecting agents that can kill molds and prevent recurrence. The only problem with chemical-based cleaners is that they can contain toxins that can be harmful to humans if it comes into contact with skin, or worse, ingested into the body. Used with brushes and detergents, they can be very effective in removing and preventing mold infestations.
Organic Mold Cleaners
An alternative to chemical cleaners are organic mold cleaners. These are proven safe to humans and are harmless to the environment. However, they are not much effective as disinfectants as compared to chemical cleaners. Still, safety would be the first priority particularly for home-related purposes.
An integral part of mold remediation work is drying out of affected surfaces. An effective method to achieve this is through the use of air blowers or air movers. Air movers are heavy-duty fans than can release powerful air-flows into the room or affected area to hasten the drying process. It would also be wise to use proper ventilation of the area during the drying process by opening doors and windows and let airflow move freely across the affected room. If air movers are not available, ordinary electric fans can also be used although not as effective as air movers.
As part of the drying process, dehumidifiers can also be introduced into the affected area or room to remove moisture in the air that has accumulated due to drying. Moisture and high humidity allows an environment that is susceptible for mold growth. This should be controlled and brought down to proper relative humidity levels.
Finally, after all mold remediation efforts have successfully removed all mold infestations and complete drying has been achieved, deodorizing the room using air fresheners or deodorants would be a refreshing respite from all that hard work. Floodwater can leave foul odor after drying. The same is through with molds. The use of these deodorants can remove this bad smells and make the place habitable once more.
Homeowners can use these tools and procedures in facing mold problems in their homes. With the current economic crisis causing financial problems across the country, it would be wise to know these procedures instead of seeking help from professional restoration companies that may charge high fees and put more strain in your budget. Have these tools available now and be ready.