Cleaning Up Safely After a Flood

The recent Kentucky floods serve as a reminder for facility managers to be prepared.

August 2, 2022

The devastating flooding that hit Kentucky in late July and the massive cleanup efforts to follow are crucial reminders to facility managers to always be prepared for floods in their own buildings.

In fact, when affected by flooding, the sooner you can start cleaning, the better. The Kentucky governor’s website is already urging the state’s current flood victims to not wait to clean up.

To ensure a safe cleanup of your facility after a flood, here are actions that you’ll immediately need to take.

Safety First

The safety of your workers is always job one. Before anyone enters the building, be sure to:

  • Look out for damaged power lines, gas lines, and other structural damage, such as sagging floors or ceilings.
  • Turn off main electrical power and water systems. Remember that no one should ever be dealing with electrical power while wet or standing in water!
  • If possible, open doors and windows to help air out the building.

Protect Yourself and Your Workers

Anyone who will be cleaning needs to wear protective gear. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests the following:

  • Hard hats
  • Goggles
  • N95 masks (or a respirator with a higher protection level)
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Waterproof boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank)
  • Earplugs or protective headphones (if you’re working with noisy equipment).

If sewage is involved, make sure the gloves and boots are made of rubber. You’ll also want to make sure everyone is wearing long pants and shirts with long sleeves.

Report the Damage

You’ll need to report your building’s flood damage to the appropriate insurance company as soon as possible. So before beginning any cleanup:

  • Take photos of all the damage. Be sure to include photos and/or videos of the outside and inside of the building. Label the images and recordings by room.
  • Photograph the make, model, and serial number for all equipment in the building.
  • Separate damaged items from undamaged items. The insurance adjuster might need to document damaged items when conducting an inspection.
  • If possible, keep samples of carpeting, flooring, wallpaper, and drapery.

Once photos are taken, cleanup can begin.

Clean Safely, Effectively, and Efficiently

To make sure your efforts are effective and efficient as well as safe, employ the following techniques when cleaning flood-infested areas:

  • Decide which cleanup tasks are the most important and focus on those first.
  • Have teams of at least two people work together to move heavy or bulky objects.
  • Immediately remove any wet items from the building.
  • Throw away damaged items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned, such as perishable food, clothing, cushions, and pillows.
  • Clean walls, hard floors, and other hard surfaces first with soap and water, and then disinfect with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water, which can help prevent mold, a common consequence of flooding. (Remember also to never combine bleach and ammonia, as the resulting vapors are hazardous.)
  • Use hot water to wash any fabrics that can be salvaged.
  • Make sure workers take breaks and rest as needed.
  • Provide clean, safe water for workers to drink.
  • Instruct all workers to wash their own hands and use hand sanitizer regularly and often.
  • Watch out for any sharp or pointy objects, such as protruding nails and screws, aluminum, and broken glass.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Keep any generators outside and at least 20 feet away from any doors, windows, or vents. If a pressure washer is used, keep its engine outdoors and follow the same rules as with generators. Never run a car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a building, even with the garage door open.

If there’s ever doubt about keeping any flood-damaged item, err on the side of caution and get rid of it. When in doubt—throw it out!

After the cleanup, be sure to remember to save receipts from all repairs that took place due to the flooding for insurance purposes.

Learn How to Improve Your Facility’s Image Via Its Restrooms

August 2, 2022

To create a good impression of your facility, a great place to start is with its restrooms. Your building’s restrooms are a reflection of your facility as a whole.

What do your restrooms convey about your facility? Are they poorly stocked, dirty, and uninviting? Or are they well-stocked, clean, and comfortable? And what can you do to improve the impression they make on your visitors and occupants?

To find out, join our free webinar Flushed with Pride: Creating Restrooms that Improve Facility Image, starting at 11:00 a.m. ET/Noon CT on Wednesday, August 24.

During this hour-long webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Technologies for smart/connected/touch-free restrooms
  • Workloading to ensure consumables are always available
  • Best practices for common trouble areas and eliminating odors
  • How to deal with restroom cleaning challenges and complaints
  • Processes and procedures for better productivity
  • Staffing and retention best practices
  • How to handle high-traffic situations with cleaning and re-stocking
  • The ongoing pandemic concerns and issues with safe and inviting public restrooms
  • Validation methods designed to establish cleaning results.

The webinar includes a special Q&A session with the expert panelists, so you’ll leave fully informed with all your questions answered. Come discover how your restrooms can send the right message!

This free webinar is brought to you by Kaivac Inc. and SteraMist by TOMI Environmental Solutions. Register here.

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