Flooding and mold are a reality for businesses in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale areas, with severe storms often targeting the region, especially in this El Niño season; with sea level rise causing more frequent flooding, particularly in Miami, and, of course, the potential for the strong tides and rain of hurricanes.
Did you know there is a right way and wrong way to clean your business after a flood, particularly as it relates to mold? According to the Florida Department of Health, moisture that enters buildings from leaks or flooding accelerates mold growth, which any building owner should be aware of. The department also stresses that “molds can cause disease, trigger asthma symptoms and allergic reactions and continue to damage materials long after the storm has passed. Failure to control moisture and mold can present short and long-term health risks.”
How do you recognize mold? It sends out its own greeting card. Mold has an earthy, musty odor and it often appears as a stain or fuzzy growth on furniture or building materials.
To protect the health of employees and anyone entering the building, here are tips to clean up after a flood occurrence:
- Remove standing water from your home or office.
- Remove wet materials. If the moldy material is not easily cleanable, such as drywall, carpet padding and insulation, then removal and replacement may be necessary.
- Consider using personal protective equipment when cleaning or removing mold, such as gloves, goggles and an N-95 particle respirator (found at most local hardwarestores). Do not use a respirator if you have heart disease or chronic lung disease such as asthma or emphysema. Important: Individuals with known mold allergies or asthma should not clean or remove moldy materials.
- If mold growth has occurred, carefully remove or clean the moldy material in a well ventilated area. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet, in most cases, it is fine to clean it using a detergent/soapy water or a commercial mildew or mold cleaner. The cleaned area should then be thoroughly dried.
- Throw away any sponges or rags used to clean mold. If the mold returns quickly or spreads, it may mean the building materials are still wet enough to support mold growth.
You should also thoroughly scrub floors and woodwork within 24 to 48 hours after floodwaters recede, using a stiff brush, water, detergent and sanitizer. Remember to discard any ceiling tile or other absorbent materials contaminated by floodwater.
Contact a professional cleaning company servicing Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties, for help and advice to ensure that your office building and business are thoroughly cleaned and ready for employees and customers. Additionally, floridadisaster.org offers many tips for preparing for, and handling the aftermath, of a flood situation.
The impact of floodwaters on your business should not be taken lightly – don’t let mold send out its “hello” to your customers before you do.