In light of recent flood causing weather conditions in parts of western New York the Erie County Department of Health is reminding people to be aware of health and safety risks when cleaning up their flooded basement.
The department is asking people to begin flood cleanup as soon as possible. They suggest people wear gloves, masks, rubber boots, and protective eyeglasses while cleaning to avoid exposure to contaminants carried by flood water and sewer backups.
Erie County Director of Environmental Health Dolores Funke said her advice is to throw out items that cannot be easily cleaned or dried within 24 to 48 hours.
“If you’re trying to cleanup and sanitize things that don’t get saturated, walls, floors, etc, you can use a combination of bleach and water, that’s one cup of bleach to five gallons of water. Be careful never to mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning products, because you can create toxic gasses within your basement,” said Funke.
The health department is encouraging people to have all electrical equipment affected by the wet conditions assessed by a qualified technician.
“You may also have to be concerned about your gas appliances. For example if it’s an appliance where the pilot light may have been exposed to the flood waters, that appliance may need to be shut off and a service technician might need to assist with re-lighting it,” said Funke.
Funke suggests that people open their basement windows and use a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture that leads to mold.
“Something that’s an upholstered piece of furniture or something that is made out of cloth that can actually harbor mold and bacteria which will grow, so it’s best to discard those items. I know it’s very difficult if something has a sentimental value to throw it out, but it’s the healthier thing to do,” said Funke.
They are also asking people to throw out boxed, canned, or jarred food that may have been affected by flood waters.
Funke reminds people that use well water to be cautious as it may be contaminated with raw sewage. She says it’s important to sanitize your well before you use it again.