After the recent devastating hurricanes dumped many inches of water in Texas and Florida, thousands of businesses are faced with the prospect of post-flood office building cleaning.
Where do they begin? How do you clean your building after it has been ravaged by floodwaters? Here are some tips to facilitate any business’s post-flood office building cleaning.
Tip #1: Take Precaution Before Undertaking Post-Flood Office Building Cleaning
If your building has been completely submerged or if it’s had rushing water running through it, it’s possible that the building’s structural integrity could be compromised. If you fear that the building’s been damaged, let an expert enter it to make an assessment and any necessary repairs prior to starting the cleanup process.
Tip #2: Be Wary of Electrocution Risk
Another danger you must consider before you tackle your post-flood office building cleanup is the potential for electrocution. Water and electricity do not mix, so it’s vital to turn off the power prior to stepping foot into the building. If you can access the service panel or main breaker without wading through water, you can turn it off that way. Otherwise, ask the utility company to turn it off at the meter for you.
Then, be sure that you take the following precautions:
- Keep the power off until all the electrical equipment in your office has been inspected by a licensed electrician.
- Turn off the building’s water.
- Avoid downed power lines and electric wires.
- Don’t touch anything electrical as long as your office’s floor is wet.
- Inspect your office for any signs of electrical system damage, including sparks, broken or frayed wires, or even the smell of burning insulation.
Tip #3: Reduce the Risk of Fire
In the aftermath of a flood, the last thing you might feel you need to worry about is a fire. However, it’s very possible, unless you take the proper steps to stop it.
- Don’t allow anyone on site to smoke.
- Ask the gas company to turn off the gas at the main valve—or, if you’re capable of doing it, do it yourself.
- Conduct an inspection of all the storage and piping systems that contain flammable liquids. Look for any leaks and damage, and repair it immediately.
Tip #4: Be Ready to Throw Away Uncleanable Materials
It’s hard to let go of possessions, but if they’re not able to be sanitized properly, it’s possible they’ll carry bacteria and viruses, not to mention the potential for mold. Be sure that you minimize any potential skin contact with any of the items you deem unsavable.
That said, be sure that you photograph anything that you must toss— it’s possible that you can report it in your insurance claim and be reimbursed for the item.
Tip #5: Wash the Items That Are Salvageable
At the minimum, use hot, soapy water to wash items that can be saved; this category might include curtains, rugs, and furniture. If possible, use bleach on your curtains to further destroy any potential bacteria and viruses.
Tip #6: Safety First
- Take care to dress appropriately to walk through the building, whether there’s standing water or not; long, sturdy pants, high rubber boots, long sleeves, and gloves should be worn. Walk with care, as sharp objects or tripping hazards could be lurking under the water.
- Protect your eyes, nose, and throat with goggles and an N-95 mask. Be sure that you wear them both throughout the post-flood office building cleaning process. Also, avoid mixing bleach with other cleaning supplies— it could be detrimental to your health!
- Keep windows and doors open and use fans to pull fumes away from the room where you’re working.
- Wash your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and very warm water when you’re finished.
Tip #7: Disinfect Every Room
The potential for mold if you don’t properly conduct your post-flood office building cleaning is very serious. Mold is not only unsightly, but it’s also a significant health hazard. With that in mind, it’s important that you wipe down every surface with a strong disinfectant agent to remove the possibility of mold growing later.
In addition to mold, you also need to be sure that you properly disinfect your office building to prevent the spread of disease.