Top 10 Tips for Homeowners Post-Sandy. Mold Remediation is the Foundation for Rebuilding
Last night, in cooperation with Assemblyman Matthew Titone, we sponsored a World Cares Center (WCC) Muck out & Mold Remediation Training for Homeowners in Staten Island at St. Margaret Mary Church. The training was led by our Staten Island Programs Manager, Michelle Bascome and our Leading and Managing Programs Manager, Marina Diaz. They were joined by Michael Corbett, Compliance Assistance Specialist at the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). We conducted this training because of our firm belief that education, preparation, and collaboration are critical components to rebuilding. We focused on three topics during the training:
· Facts about mold, safety, and sanitizing during a muck out
· The importance of communication during a muck out
· The physical and emotional strength needed to conduct an effective muck out
Since Sandy, WCC has focused on the acute need for safe muck outs of homes to reduce the spread of mold. Muck outs are a crucial first step in the rebuilding process. Before any rebuilding or refurbishing can take place, the home needs to be structurally stable, free of mold, and completely dry. Given recent reports of homeowners putting themselves at risk by returning to their homes before undertaking a complete muck out, we recognize the need to provide training in this area. For information on future trainings and muck outs in Staten Island, contact our Staten Island Programs Manager, Michelle Bascome at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since Sandy, we have deployed volunteer teams, with trained team leaders, to muck out over 600 homes in the Rockaways. Homeowners who take on the task of mucking out their homes on their own, or with makeshift volunteer crews, should proceed carefully. We’ve put together some handy tips for ensuring that your muck out is done properly. Moving too quickly through the process won’t get you into your home any sooner. Given the very nature of flooding and water damage, time is needed. Here are our top 10 tips for conducting a muck out and stopping mold growth:
1) Understand the conditions under which mold thrives so you know why a step-by-step muck out process is critical.
Mold thrives in warm temperatures (+60◦F), in water (+60% moisture), and with a food source (carbon-based materials like wood).
2) Monitor your health for symptoms associated with mold exposure and make sure you take safety precautions to prevent exposure as much as possible.
Mold spores can cause the following known health effects and symptoms (allergic reactions, respiratory effects like asthma, irritant effects like skin rashes, opportunistic infections, and reproductive effects).
3) “Clean, Kill, and Coat” - The mold remediation process should include these steps to ensure your home is inhabitable and ready for rebuilding.
Clean out your home of unsalvageable items that are breeding mold, kill mold spores by disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces, and coat surfaces with a mold remediation solution.
4) Get the proper personnel and volunteers so the project is safe and on schedule.
Ideally, you want a licensed contractor, a trusted volunteer with professional experience in construction and electrical work, and a team of volunteers that are trained. Find online training for volunteers at our website: http://bit.ly/X4GouS.
5) Personal safety equipment is essential for a successful muck out.
You can’t move forward with a muck out without the following essential equipment: hardhat, goggles, N95-level respirator, work gloves, rubber boots, and heavy-duty rubber gloves. A disposable “Tyvek” type coverall is ideal to protect your clothes.
6) Prepare for the unexpected by being rested and emotionally ready to undertake a muck out.
There will be surprises during a muck out including the possibility of minor accidents given the presence of hazards such as sharp objects and electrical wiring. Don’t be surprised if you see critters (wild and domestic animals) unexpectedly hiding in nooks and open spaces. Expect the unexpected.
7) Have all your muck out equipment handy before you start any work.
At the very least, you will need: a 3-gallon bucket, crow bar, pry bar, box cutter, hammer, garden sprayer, bleach or mold remediation solution, contractor-grade garbage bags, and a first aid kit.
8) Shut down to reduce hazards: gas, water, and electrical shut offs.
Work in a well-ventilated area – open and air out the house for at least 30 minutes prior to work, remove drapes that impede air flow, and utilize fans to improve ventilation. Make sure the gas is shut off at the main valve, the water is shut off to the main water supply, and that your electrical system is shut off. If you are unsure about how to do these shut offs, consult a trained construction worker or call the gas company or your local fire department.
9) Prior to clean up, decide which items you need to discard and identify trained workers for specific clean up tasks. Remove flooring and walls 12 inches above the flood level.
Remove contaminated debris/items, progressing from smallest to large appliances. Mattresses and upholstered furniture should be removed as well as carpeting, papers and books, and food items. Appliances that were under water or housed in moldy rooms should also be disposed of.
10) Respect the mold remediation process by following guidelines for adequate drying time. Wash and sanitize, treat with mold remediation solution, and ventilate and dry the house thoroughly.
Use a pressure washer or spray to wash down and disinfect all floor and wall surfaces beginning at the flood level. Use mold disinfectant products such as Shockwave or Sporicidin or create your own bleach/water solution. Depending on the severity of the mold, you may have to coat surfaces with the mold remediation solution up to three times (drying thoroughly in between each coating) to ensure that mold is effectively stopped in its tracks. Rushing during this part of the process may impede your rebuilding if mold is not sufficiently killed.
We know homeowners have been devastated since Sandy. The process of rebuilding requires a team effort, expert help, and patience to work through the stages of a successful muck out. The reward for following these safety precautions will be progress towards a safe return to your home and peace of mind that you provided a foundation for rebuilding through effective mold remediation.