A Guideline for Cleaning Up After Flood or Sewer Back-up

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1 A Guideline for Cleaning Up After Flood or Sewer Back-up Revised

2 INDEX PAGE Index 2 Personal Protection 3 Procedure for Cleaning Up 3 Safety 4 Initial Clean-up 5 Clean-up and Disinfection 5 Disinfectants 5 2

3 This is a guideline developed by the Algoma Public Health to assist persons affected by a sewer back-up. Final decisions around the re-use of items affected by the sewer back-up rest with the owner. PERSONAL PROTECTION PROTECT YOURSELF: Before entering a flooded area make sure it is free of any electrical, natural gas or oil hazards. Raw sewage poses a threat to human health. During clean-up, protect yourself from illness by following these guidelines: 1. Wear protective clothing, rubber boots, waterproof gloves, eye glasses, safety glasses. Wearing a dust mask may prevent splashing around the nose and mouth and limit hand to mouth contact with contaminated waters. 2. Remind yourself and your co-workers to wash hands frequently, especially before eating, smoking, or having direct skin contact with contaminated water and surfaces. 3. Do not rub your mouth, eyes, ears, and nose. 4. Do not expose open cuts and sores to contamination. 5. Change your clothes daily or more often and wash contaminated clothes separately from others or throw them out. 6. People whose immune systems are compromised are considered to be at a greater risk and should not attempt this type of cleaning. 7. Used cleaning supplies should be thrown out. i.e. Sponges, mops, cloths, rags. PROCEDURES FOR CLEAN-UP Call a professional if you are not prepared to do the work yourself. Look under Water Damage Restoration in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book. 1. Provide adequate ventilation during the clean-up. 2. Drain or pump sewage waters to the sanitary sewer. 3. Discard absorbent materials that have been exposed to sewage (rugs, carpets, cloth, wall coverings, and insulation). 4. Thoroughly clean and mop up the area starting at the floor and working up. This will remove initial contamination and help to prevent the spread of debris. 5. Wash all hard surfaces (walls, floors) with soap and hot water using a brush or other device. 3

4 6. Disinfect all hard surfaces with an approved disinfectant, i.e. unscented household bleach ( ml bleach in 9 litres of water or 1 cup 1 1/2 cup of bleach in 2 gallons of water). Clean for 10 minutes and let it stand for 30 minutes. Make sure work areas are well ventilated to outside air. Consult yellow pages of phone book, under janitorial service for commercial suppliers of cleaners/disinfectants. Local hardware, convenience and grocery stores carry chlorine bleach products or other disinfectants. Read the labels carefully. Follow manufacturers instructions and use in a well ventilated area. 7. Make sure that all surfaces that have been washed and disinfected are dried completely. Drying of all items quickly is very important. It will kill bacteria and parasites and reduce the potential for mould growth. SAFETY It is imperative that in cases where water has entered a dwelling unit by any means (flooding, backed up sewer, etc.) the power to the residence be disconnected before any person enters the flooded area for any reason. If the electrical service panel is located in the flooded area, it will be necessary to call the utility to disconnect the service at the meter or the pole. Do not enter a flooded area to operate the main breaker or switch! Any electrical appliances used in areas where water or high moisture is present should be protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. This is the same type of protection that is required for receptacles at bathroom sinks, swimming pools and outside a house. IF YOU SMELL GAS ventilate, evacuate and call 911 or your gas supplier/service agent. HANDWASHING AND PERSONAL PROTECTION WASH your hands with liquid soap (preferably anti-bacterial soap) thoroughly and often. SCRUB well between your fingers and under your nails. WASH hands particularly before eating or smoking. AVOID hand to mouth, eyes, ears, nose contact while working. WEAR RUBBER gloves and boots to protect against direct contact with sewage. Protective eye wear is also recommended. AVOID contact with sewage and contaminated articles, if you have open cuts or wounds. CLEANSE any cuts, wounds promptly and thoroughly with soap and water. Contact your physician respecting your status for follow-up immunization, such as tetanus-polio. 4

5 INITIAL CLEAN-UP SEWAGE from basements should be redirected back into the sanitary sewer system. REMOVE all soaked items, and debris from your home as soon as possible. LOOK for hidden areas where water and debris may gather such as under, in and around the furnace, hot water tank, appliances, vanity, shower/bathtubs, stairs and landings, etc. WET materials can quickly rot, support mould or bacterial growth and generate unpleasant odours after cleaning. They must be completely dried as soon as possible. OPEN windows, doors to aid natural ventilation. Mechanical fans, dehumidifiers and heat will aid the drying process. CLEAN-UP AND DISINFECTION ONCE the debris and sewage waters have been removed, use hot water and soap to clean areas. When the areas have been washed and cleaned, then disinfect. Some products are combinations of detergent and disinfectants. Follow manufacturers instructions. THERE are many cleaners and disinfectants. Make sure the product to be used is for the proposed purpose. Refer to the label or your supplier for directions if you are unsure. READ the manufacturer s instructions carefully and follow all precautions listed. Do not mix different chemicals together! Material Safety Data Sheets, which include some personal safety precautions, should be made available upon request from your supplier. Do one room at a time. Use a two-bucket approach; one for the cleaning solution and the other for the rinse water. This keeps most of the dirty rinse water out of the pail. VENTILATE the area. Use fans, dehumidifiers, heat or natural ventilation. Open screened doors and windows to promote unobstructed air flow. DISINFECTANTS Select cleaning, disinfection products with care. Read the manufacturer s instructions carefully and follow all precautions listed. Do not mix different chemicals together! Do one room at a time. Disinfection is only effective after cleaning and rinsing steps, unless you use a commercial combination cleaner/disinfectant. 5

6 You may use a two-bucket approach; one for the cleaning solution and the other for the rinse water. This keeps most of the dirty rinse water out of your cleaning solution and increases its effectiveness. Organic matter reduces the effectiveness of a disinfectant. cleaned and rinsed of any residues before disinfecting. Make sure all surfaces are Combination cleaning disinfectant products are available. Ask retailer/supplier to ensure the product is suitable for such purpose. Commercial Institutional Products are available by checking Yellow Pages in the telephone book under Janitorial Supplies. Products for household use, are available from corner stores, grocery stores, hardware stores. Chlorine solutions, such as household bleach 5.25%, will destroy bacteria in sewage but it will not kill the encysted parasite Giardia lamblia which can also be present in sewage. Drying of the affected items is very important to destroy this parasite. 6

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