Disaster can strike at any time. An effective cleanup plan can help you get your home back to normal while protecting your family from harmful conditions. Depending on the type of disaster and extent of damage, you can aid in removing debris—but it’s critical to proceed with the right safety gear and plan of action.
Minimize the risk of additional property damage or personal harm during your disaster cleanup efforts. Follow this guide to preserve as much of your home and belongings as you can while working with contractors, cleanup services, or renovation teams to restore your home after a disaster.
Use the Right Gear
Safety starts with the right gear before clearing debris or entering damaged areas of your home. Coming into contact with standing water after a flood, exposed electrical wiring, or broken walls or roofing can add personal injury to recovery efforts.
Surviving a home disaster is a big success—even with the heartbreak that a disaster can bring when losing sentimental items in your home. Make sure the cleanup after the disaster isn’t an additional risk to your health.
Before beginning cleanup efforts, try to find:
- Work gloves
- A hard hat
- N95 masks (or a respirator)
- Steel toe waterproof boots
If you’re using noisy equipment to cut tree limbs or clear debris, make sure you have earplugs or protective headphones. Having a fire extinguisher on hand can also protect against a fire outbreak from shifting electrical wires or other hazards.
When dealing with broken sewerage pipes or standing water, you’ll want a pair of tall rubber boots and some rubber gloves to protect against bacteria in the water. If you suspect standing water contains any kind of sewage, call professional disaster cleanup services like Ctr-nw.com. These companies have the right equipment and training to remove contaminated water and clean after removing harmful materials.
The right safety equipment will help keep you safe during the cleanup process, but you also need to be careful as you enter your home and work room by room.
Proceed With Caution
With your safety gear in place, proceed into your home with caution. Test flooring and walls to make sure they are sound before putting your full weight on any structures. Use a pole to test the depth of water-logged areas the flooring strength that could have damage you can’t see.
If you see exposed wiring, leave the room and call an electrician with disaster recovery experience. Don’t risk electrical shock until a professional reviews the wiring and repairs any dangerous issues. In some cases, it might be best to shut off the power to heavily damaged rooms until an electrician can inspect your home and make sure it’s safe.
Take your time as you assess the damage. Before removing debris, make an inventory of items you see and other things you haven’t found yet. As you process the debris and begin to remove and sort items, check them off your list to account for valuables and sentimental possessions you want to salvage.
Prevent More Damage
Be careful that your cleanup and repair efforts don’t cause more damage to yourself, your family, or your home as you go. Even with safety gear and a careful approach, it can be easy to overdo it or make a mistake that can cause an injury or setback in your cleanup and repair efforts.
- If you don’t feel comfortable using equipment like chainsaws or sledgehammers, let someone else handle those tools.
- Use teams or hire professionals with the right equipment to move heavy and dangerous objects.
- Set water-damaged items away from salvageable items to protect them from further harm.
- Make sure tree limbs or damaged walls are free-and-clear before attempting to remove them.
Sometimes removing a tree limb or damaged wall can lead to a chain-reaction of collapse. If you can’t see your way around a fallen structure, wait until disaster cleanup companies can help you with heavy debris removal.
Practice Good Hygiene and Habits
Disaster recovery is messy work. You’ll come into contact with dangerous, dirty, and harmful things you never thought would be possible in the space you call “home.” You’ll also work harder at tasks you’ve never done before in the effort to salvage and rebuild your home.
As you work:
- Take frequent breaks. Working nonstop until exhaustion won’t help you get the job done faster.
- Stay hydrated and nourished. Keep bottled water and snacks handy to refuel throughout the day.
- Use a buddy system. Working without help can be lonely and dangerous.
- Clean your hands frequently. If you come into contact with potential sewage and standing water, remove your gloves and wash your hands often with soap or hand sanitizer.
- Separate your work clothes from clean areas. Don’t carry harmful bacteria to your safe space after a day of work.
In a widespread disaster, clean water, soap, and fresh clothes can be hard to find. However, you’ll be in contact with plenty of potential toxins, bacteria, and sewage during the cleanup efforts.
Do your best to keep dirty things where you’re working to recover at your home. Clean yourself as often as you can and keep a change of clean clothes on hand to wear when resting for the night.
Delegate the Toughest Work
You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) try to clear your home, rebuild it, and clean it on your own. Leave the heavy lifting and repairs to professionals with the right experience to handle hazardous and dangerous materials. Work with your insurance company to find cleanup and renovation experts covered by your homeowner’s policy.
Don’t Face Disaster Cleanup Alone
Trust professionals to help you recover after disaster strikes. Take care of yourself and your family through a disaster cleanup. Recovery might be hard to see at first—but with the right plan and help, you’ll make it through a tough time and experience.
We hope you never have to use this information, but it’s here in case you do! Be sure to browse more of our other helpful articles.