Storm damage: 3 safety tips for cleaning up after flood waters

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In addition to causing property damage and devastation to your landscaping, storm damage from tropical...

In addition to causing property damage and devastation to your landscaping, storm damage from tropical storms and hurricanes can leave the South soaked. Torrential rains and storm surges flood and leave water damage behind on your property. When the threat of the storm has passed and it's time to start clean-up, be aware of what lingers in the standing water.

1. Watch for wildlife
As flood water moves through the area, it picks up a bit of everything in its path. In addition to physical objects and loose soil, wildlife is often transported.

Before investigating standing water around your property, put on hip waders and thick boots. Snakes, alligators and even household pets may linger in the waters. Call for help from a local animal control facility to remove stranded pets or wildlife from your property. In an emergency, all types of animals will be scared and may lash out in defense.

2. Avoid contaminated water
Torrential rains and flash flood waters move over roadways and through garages. As the water flows, it becomes contaminated with liquids that quickly become invisible in the water. Car oil, antifreeze, solvents, household cleansers and chemicals used in lawn care become part of the flood waters.

Never let children or pets linger in the water, even if it appears calm and contained to a ditch or recessed area of the yard. The contaminants can burn the skin, cause skin rashes or seep into existing cuts or abrasions and cause an infection.

3. Sanitize or dispose of flood-soaked items
After speaking with your insurance agent, you need to dispose of or sanitize water-soaked items. Some things such as bedding, clothing, ceramic goods and metal objects can be washed with an antibacterial soap or cleansed with bleach.

Unfortunately, structural parts of your home, including drywall, laminate flooring and wooden cupboards, are nearly impossible to fully sanitize to minimize the risk of mold and mildew. Consider calling a contractor in the Atlanta area to assess your property damage and offer quotes on rebuilding storm-damaged areas of your home.

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