After the Storm: Hurricane Cleanup Tips

Every week, it seems as if a new hurricane emerges. This fall, we’ve seen the devastating impact of these storms first hand in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. While preparation and evacuation are stressful, it can sometimes be even more overwhelming to return to a damaged home or business. To help ease the anxiety around cleanup, the CTEH team is offering its expert advice:

What should individuals wear during cleanup?
Individuals should always wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). However, the type of PPE depends on the situation. Individuals should ask themselves questions such as, “Are contaminated materials or sewage present at my home or business?” or “Is there still standing water?” In the majority of situations, individuals are advised to wear hard hards; goggles; rubber or waterproof boots with a steel toe and insole; heavy work gloves; and, if using noisy equipment, earplugs or other protective headgear. If individuals will be standing or working in cold water, they should wear insulated clothing and rubber boots. If working in warm temperatures, individuals should wear light or loose-fitting clothing to prevent overheating.

How can we prevent mold?
Individuals should only return to their homes or businesses after authorities have deemed it safe. They should then dry the building as quickly as possible with fans, AC units and dehumidifiers. They should clean all wet items and surfaces (e.g., concrete, metal furniture) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent. To prevent mold from growing, they should discard anything that can’t be cleaned or dried quickly (e.g., carpets, stuffed animals, upholstered furniture); remove contaminated drywall or insulation; and fix outstanding leaks.

What if there’s already mold present?
To protect themselves from coming in contact with or breathing in mold, individuals must wear the proper personal protective equipment, including at a minimum a N-95 respirator, protective gloves and goggles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then advises individuals to clean the mold with a mixture of one cup of household bleach and one gallon of water. (NOTE: Individuals should never use this mixture in closed spaces without airflow from open windows or doors.) Once they’re done cleaning, individuals should wash their hands and bodies thoroughly with soap and water. They should then wash their clothes in hot water and detergent in a separate load from uncontaminated clothes and linens.

Does your business help with storm recovery or rebuilding? Contact CTEH at 501-801-8500 or email For information about hurricane hazards, check out the Hidden Dangers of Floodwater.

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