Floods are one of the most common and costly natural disasters in Canada. Flood damage is also a major cause of mould in homes, which can make you and your family to sick.

Mould grows in wet and damp conditions. It’s less likely to grow if your home and furnishings are dry within 48 hours after a flood. It’s important to remove standing water and any wet materials as soon as possible after a flood. This will help prevent mould, which can continue to damage your home long after the flood.

During flood cleanup, think safety first!

Flood cleanup has 2 immediate dangers: electric shock and sewage contamination.

Electric shock

You can avoid electric shock by always wearing rubber boots when standing in water. You should also shut off the power to the flooded area at the breaker box. Be sure to keep all extension cords out of the water, too.

If you’re not sure what to do, don’t be afraid to ask your local electricity utility for help.

Sewage contamination

If your house is flooded by sewage-contaminated water, you’ll need to take a number of special precautions.

It’s very easy to get infected by disease handling sewage-contaminated water and materials. You may even be in danger of infection just by breathing the air in an area contaminated by sewage. If you suspect sewage contamination, you should:

  • contact your environmental health officer (EHO) or community health representative
  • avoid exposing family members and pets to the contaminated area
  • keep children, pregnant women and people with respiratory problems away from contaminated water and materials
  • bag, tag and dispose of contaminated household items according to your local regulations

Once the contaminated items and standing water are removed, you’ll need to do a thorough cleaning of the entire area.

Four steps for flood cleanup

1. Prepare for the flood cleanup

Gather all the equipment and supplies you might need for the flood cleanup, including:

  • disposable gloves
  • N95 masks
  • rubber boots
  • goggles
  • pails, mops and sponges
  • plastic garbage bags
  • unscented detergent
  • clean water

Where possible, open windows and doors to provide fresh air.

Rent any larger equipment you might need, including submersible pumps, fans, wet/dry shop vacuums and dehumidifiers.

2. Remove water, mud and other debris

  • Remove standing water with pumps or pails, then with a wet/dry shop vacuum.
  • Remove all soaked and dirty materials, as well as debris, and residual mud and soil.
  • Clean dirty walls and furnishings with unscented soap and water, then dry them with a wet/dry shop vacuum.
  • Clean and dry all floors as quickly as possible.

3. Dispose of wet materials that can’t be dried within 48 hours

  • Remove and discard flooring that has been soaked by flood water.
  • Remove all wet drywall, going at least 30 cm above the flood water level.
  • Dispose of all wet items that do not dry quickly, including:
    • insulation and drywall
    • carpets
    • particleboard furniture
    • mattresses and box springs
    • stuffed toys
    • pillows and cushions
    • furniture coverings

4. Clean and dry out your home and salvageable possessions

  • After cleaning with soap and water, use fans, heaters and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process. Rapid drying is essential for mould prevention.
  • Vacuum dry surfaces and surfaces that weren’t directly affected by flood water with a HEPA vacuum cleaner.

For more information, please contact your local CMHC office or CMHC consultant.

Date Published:: March 31, 2018