Disasters can strike when we least expect them; when they do, the aftermath can be overwhelming. Whether it's a severe storm or a tornado, cleaning up after a disaster can leave you feeling helpless and frustrated. Thankfully, Georgia is not among the top disaster-prone states in the US. However, the state still experiences its fair share of natural disasters, with the most recent disaster declaration in January of this year.
After a tornado or storm, just taking one look at your home and all the damage that's been done can be frustrating. But don't worry; with some guidance, you can clean up and restore your home to its original condition. While it's best to leave heavy and unique cleanup tasks for professionals, these tips will help if you want to get a crack at the simpler cleanup task.
Before you start cleaning up after a disaster, make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand. You don't want to be halfway through cleaning and realize you must visit the store. Some essential supplies include:
Cleaning up after a disaster can be dangerous, so protecting yourself from harm is essential. Always wear rubber gloves and a mask to prevent exposure to harmful substances and debris. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes to protect your feet from sharp objects while working outside. You should also have a first aid box handy in case of little cuts and scrapes. You can find a complete list of supplies needed for cleaning up after a disaster here.
After a disaster, harmful gases and fumes, such as carbon monoxide, may fill your home. You should open doors and windows to ventilate the area and improve air quality. It's amazing what a little fresh air can do for your mood and health is amazing.
Remove any items that have been damaged beyond repairs, such as furniture, appliances, and electronics. Wear gloves when handling these items, as they may be sharp or contain hazardous materials. Sweep or mop up any standing water and debris, but be careful not to spread it around. The faster you get rid of the damaged items, the sooner you can move on to restoration.
Any food that has come into contact with flood water or other contaminants should be thrown away. This includes packaged foods and canned goods. If in doubt, throw it out. It's always better to be safe than sorry about your health.
Use a solution of bleach and water to clean and disinfect hard surfaces, such as floors, countertops, and walls. You could also use a disinfecting soap, but always follow the instructions on the label and wear gloves when handling the solution. Disinfecting hard surfaces is crucial in preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses.
Soft items, such as rugs and upholstery, should be dried in the sunlight to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Hang them outside to dry, if possible. The warmth of the sun can do wonders in eliminating any lingering moisture.
After a disaster, checking for water or soot damage is essential, especially in hard-to-see places like attics or crawl spaces. Water damage can lead to mold growth, which can harm your health. Soot can also be hazardous if it's inhaled. If you see any signs of damage, it's best to contact professionals who can assess the situation and provide guidance on how to proceed with the cleanup.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself during the cleanup process. Cleaning up after a disaster can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Don't hesitate to ask for help from friends, family, or professional cleaning services. Also, pay attention to your mental health and seek support if necessary. Remember, taking things one step at a time and taking breaks when needed is okay. For more tips on recovering emotionally after a disaster, you can read this article by Red Cross.
Cleaning up after a disaster can be challenging, but with these helpful tips, you'll be well on your way to restoring your home. Get your cleaning supplies and protective gear, remove damaged items, and dispose of contaminated food. Clean and disinfect hard surfaces, and dry out soft items in the sun. Check for any water or soot damage, and don't hesitate to contact professionals if necessary. And remember to take care of yourself by taking breaks and seeking support if needed. With these steps, you'll be well on your way to recovery.