When the waters recede after a flood, addressing indoor mold growth may not seem like the most pertinent issue. However, with only 24 – 48 hours to act before the situation can become acute, you may want to put it at the top of your list.
Flood events continue to increase in frequency and severity. For example, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, global floods and extreme rainfall events have increased by more than 50% in the past ten years and are occurring at four times the rate than in 1980.1 The most significant increase in extreme flood events occurred in the northern hemisphere – 44% increase in Europe and a 21.4% in the U.S.2
It seems safe to assume that floods will continue. Extreme weather may be out of your control, but and floods are difficult to stop, but you can take action to combat indoor mold growth even as floods become more frequent.
Cleaning up mold after a flood
Drying your home and removing water-damaged items is the most critical step to prevent mold growth. Mold grows anywhere there is water, and homes with flood damage are likely to face substantial mold remediation issues.
If your home was flooded and was not wholly dried within 24-48 hours, you should assume you have mold growth.
Other tips include:
- Call an electrician before turning on any electricity to verify that electricity safe to turn on.
- Consider using a portable generator to power water-removal equipment if there is no electricity or it is not safe to turn it on.
- If weather permits, open windows and doors of the house to aid in the drying-out process. Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture. Be sure to place fans at a window or door and blow the air outwards to spread mold spores.
- Beware of turning on any home heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems! If the HVAC system has any mold growth, turning it on will blow spores throughout the home.
- Prevent water outdoors from reentering your home. Be sure to clear gutters and that they drain away from the home. The ground around the home should slope downward to prevent rainwater from gathering.
- Be aware of health risks after a flood. It's a good idea to wait for a professional to tell you it is safe before you enter.
- Before starting to clean, contact your insurance company and take pictures of your home and your other belongings.
- Wear the IQAir® Mask for nose and mouth protection when handling moldy materials.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs to avoid contact with mold spores. Wash or discard the clothing after every cleaning.
- Wear gloves and protective eyewear.
- Use a high-performance HEPA mold air purifier to help clean the air, even as work progresses. For example, the IQAir HealthPro® Plus can dramatically reduce airborne particulates including mold, and can also reduce or eliminate any musty odors.
Although Indoor Air Quality may not seem like the most important problem during flood cleanup, standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for viruses, bacteria and mold. Ensure your health safety by making it a priority.
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 Berghuijs WR, et al. (2017). Recent changes in extreme floods across multiple continents. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa8847
 Najibi N, et al. (2018). Recent trends in the frequency and duration of global floods. DOI: 10.5194/esd-9-757-2018