Though Florence has come and gone, people affected by the hurricane are still cleaning up and rebuilding. Those in affected areas with asthma and allergies must be extra careful during this time. There are many things to consider as they remove debris, clean up flood damage and make repairs.
Long after waters have receded, flood waters can leave behind chemicals, bacteria, viruses and mold. These can create long-term health issues if you have asthma and allergies.
Mold is one of the biggest concerns after a flood. Mold, a fungus, can grow in any damp environment. It is different from plants or animals in how it reproduces and grows. The “seeds,” called spores, travel through the air. Mold spores get into your nose and cause allergy symptoms. They also can reach your lungs and trigger asthma.
Here are some precautions to consider during the recovery process:
- Mold grows quickly after flooding. As you remove flood damage, wear a mask with a particulate respirator. Look for NIOSH and N95 or P100 printed on the mask. It should have two straps and should cover your nose and chin.
- Also wear a mask as you clean up debris. Many neighborhoods are still lined with debris from downed trees and damaged homes. These piles can harbor mold, pollen and toxic chemicals as you wait for your county or city to pick them up.
- Don’t burn debris. Smoke and toxic materials can irritate your airways. If neighbors burn their debris, shield yourself from the smoke as much as possible.
- Consider hiring a professional to do the cleanup.
- Throw out furniture and other items that cannot be cleaned immediately.
- If possible, find another place to stay until the mold has been cleaned up.
If your home has been flooded or has water damage, mold may start growing in places you don’t expect. It does not go away as the water dries. Mold may grow inside furniture or under carpet that got wet, making it hard to find. If not replaced, it can make you and your family very sick. Items that have gotten wet from a flood have to be thoroughly cleaned and dried or discarded. Many allergens and asthma triggers can stick around long after a hurricane has passed. Keep these tips in mind in the coming months as you rebuild. For more information, visit http://www.aafa.org/mold-allergy/.