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Indiana State Department of Health

Environmental Public Health Home > Disaster Information > Rehabilitation of Buildings, Furnaces, Furniture, Rugs, and Clothing Rehabilitation of Buildings, Furnaces, Furniture, Rugs, and Clothing

Buildings Subjected to Floods

Buildings which have been flooded should be examined carefully before being used for living quarters to make sure that they are safe and will not collapse. Loose plaster should be removed from the walls and ceilings so that it will not fall on occupants. Swollen doors and window sashes should be removed and allowed to thoroughly dry.

If water remains in the basement, it should be drained or pumped out as soon as possible. As the water is being removed, the mud should be stirred and carried away with it. After the basement has been allowed to thoroughly dry, floors and walls should be washed down with a solution of one pound of chloride of lime to six gallons of water or with a solution prepared from a commercial laundry bleach containing chlorine. Laundry bleaches, having 5.25% sodium hypochlorite, are good for this purpose. For use in basements as mentioned above, add one part of liquid chlorine laundry bleach to nine parts of water. Keep windows open for ventilation. Chlorine solutions are corrosive and should be mixed in plastic containers, enamel-lined metal pails or pans, or stoneware crocks. Do not apply solution to metal surfaces. Follow precautions printed on the chlorine container.

Walls, Woodwork and Floors

Walls and woodwork, while still damp, should be thoroughly scrubbed with a stiff fiber brush and water to remove all mud and silt. Particular attention should be given to all corners, cracks, and crevices which should receive careful scrubbing. Floors should be cleaned of all mud and dirt and allowed to thoroughly dry. Artificial heat may be used with caution, however the temperature should not get high enough to cause steam (vapor) to rise from the floor and cause buckling or warping.

Redecorating should not be attempted for some time as it is useless to try to paint damp surfaces. Three or four months' drying time may be necessary before redecorating can be done satisfactorily.

Furnaces

All parts of the heating system exposed to flood water should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. The smoke pipe and chimney should be inspected and cleaned, if necessary, and furnace doors or covers left open to ventilate the system.Burners should be removed if possible; cleaned, and allowed to dry to prevent rust and clogging of orifices.

Furniture, Books, Etc.

Furniture should be moved to the sunshine and fresh air. Drawer-slides and other working parts should be stacked separately and allowed to air dry. All mud and silt should then be removed. Care should be exercised to remove the furniture from the direct rays of the sun before it is subject to warping. Stoves and other metal fixtures should first have all the mud and silt removed and wiped with an oiled rag, polished or painted. Books should be allowed to dry carefully and slowly with alternate exposing to air and pressing. Toward the end of this treatment, books may be subjected to small amounts of artificial heat.

Rugs and Carpets

Rugs and carpets should be stretched out on a flat surface and allowed to thoroughly dry with alternate turning to prevent mold; followed by beating, sweeping or vacuum cleaning. Rugs that require shampooing should be washed with commercial rug shampoo products or with a soap jelly, and then wiped off, rinsed with clean water, and allowed to thoroughly dry. Soap jelly may be prepared by mixing one pint of mild soap powder or flakes with five parts of hot water and beat with an eggbeater until a stiff lather is formed. Resizing may be done with a commercial or homemade material. Homemade sizing may be prepared by mixing one-half pound of granulated glue to one gallon of boiling water. Stretch the rug out flat where it will not be disturbed, apply with a wide brush and allow to thoroughly dry. When practical, upholstery may be cleaned by following the procedures outlined for rugs.

Clothing and Bedding

Flood-soiled clothing and bedding require considerable care to obtain satisfactory results. All loose dirt should be brushed off, followed by thorough cleaning.