Sun | Feb 25, 2018

Cleaning up safely after a disaster

Published:Monday | August 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMTamika Clough
Tamika Clough
A section of Montego Bay under water recently.

Two weeks ago, we faced potential flooding and property damage from Tropical Storm Earl. Some have had to deal with the mess that was left behind. In an article we first published in Flair, September 8, 2008, we highlighted the safety measures you should take when cleaning up after a disaster.

When returning to your home after a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster, be sure to protect yourself and your family by following these tips:


Re-entering Buildings


Stay away from damaged buildings or structures until they have been examined and certified safe by the relevant government authority. You may want to wait to return to buildings during the day when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off.

Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal that the structure may collapse, or if you smell gas or suspect a leak. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities and do not turn on the lights or use any naked flame, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.

Keep children and pets out of the affected area until clean-up has been completed.


Mould and Clean-up


Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, upholstered furniture and cosmetics).

Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, moulding, wood and metal furniture, counter tops and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.


Hygiene, Infectious



Disease Issues


After completing the clean-up, wash with soap and water. If there is a boil-water advisory in effect, use water that has been boiled for one minute (allow the water to cool before washing). Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene (solution of 1/8 teaspoon of household bleach per gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach per gallon of water.

If you have any open cuts or sores that were exposed to flood water, wash them with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection.

• We encourage you to consult a professional cleaning service, such as Executive Home Management, who will lead your clean-up activities and ensure the safety of your family. Call us at 512-7293 or email us at