Your Guide to Disaster Cleanup at Home

Navigating a natural disaster or home emergency can be incredibly overwhelming. Use this guide to help you check all the boxes and get your home back to normal faster.

people wearing boots

Make Safety and Protection a Priority

The first and most important priority following a disaster of any kind is to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Take note of everyone, and ensure no one requires medical attention. Make sure safety follows over into the cleanup, too. If you plan to enter the home to assess the situation or begin cleaning up, make sure you’re wearing the proper protective gear.

Safety following a disaster includes wearing long pants, sturdy work boots, work gloves, and eye and nose protection. You may also need a hard hat or mask. In some situations, it may be best to avoid entering the property until it has been deemed safe. For example, water damage can lead to hazardous waste and mold growth. A building fire can make things structurally unsafe.

cars on flooded street

Stock up on the Right Cleaning Products

Cleaning up after a natural disaster is a big job. It’s important that you choose the right cleaning products for the job, and the right products will depend on the damage type. A few products to have on hand include bleach, a shop vacuum, buckets, and rubber gloves. You’ll also need a lot of heavy-duty trash bags. Larger jobs may require a dumpster rental.

Water damage cleanup typically requires a pump, antibacterial cleaning products, and mildew and mold removal items. Cleaning up after a fire requires products to help with removing soot and debris. Ammonia products can sometimes remove stubborn soot from the fireplace or walls but still may not get rid of everything. You also want to avoid touching soot, as it easily smears and can damage even more items in your home. Using the wrong products with either damage type, however, can not only lead to further damage but could also make the air quality dangerous.

Ensure Good Airflow

Whether the building suffered a flood or fire, one of the first things you’ll want to do before cleanup is to ensure good airflow. Opening the windows and strategically placing fans throughout the room helps recirculate the air and remove harmful contaminants. Removing all existing carpets, furniture, and personal goods can also help to improve air quality quickly.

Use Required Repairs to Your Advantage

Most home disasters will require some amount of repairs. Use this to your advantage by making the home improvement or remodel changes you have always wanted. Consider improvements that make life easier following the disaster. Splurge on the new lighting system you have dreamed about for years. Go with a new power appliance that makes doing household chores easier. Chances are, if you don’t make the updates now, you’ll put them off even longer since you won’t want to tear out the renovations and start new anytime soon.

Call in a Professional

Some disaster cleanup jobs can be DIY projects, especially if they’re small-scale. Others, however, may require the services and knowledge of a professional. While some homeowners may be hesitant to contact a professional because of the added price, doing so quickly can sometimes save you money in the long run. Disaster remediation is a task that requires prompt cleanup and remediation, and if not done correctly the first time, will usually lead to much more expensive damages.

Additionally, if you plan to work with your insurance company to cover the remediation costs, you may find a restoration company even more beneficial. It can be difficult to remember all the necessary tasks following a natural disaster, some of which can affect your insurance claim eligibility plus payout amount. A professional ensures you check all the boxes and may even work with your provider.

Switch From Cleanup to Prevention

Once your home is restored and you and your family are comfortably back at home, it’s time to switch to prevention strategies. You may need to implement specific techniques to prevent another natural disaster from affecting your property again. Hopefully, you were able to identify what caused the flood or fire, and you can use this information to stop it from happening again.

The American Red Cross has many exceptional resources for disaster preparedness.

A few things to focus on include creating a family disaster plan and learning basic life-saving techniques, like CPR and First Aid. Of course, home maintenance and prompt repairs are important in preventing certain housing emergencies from occurring.

No one wants to deal with a flood or fire. Yet, many homeowners find themselves learning to navigate the stresses of a home or natural disaster. Break your plan up into multiple parts that include prioritizing the safety of everyone involved, prepping for cleanup, initiating cleanup, and then preventing further damage.

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