When disaster strikes it’s hard to know where to start with restoring your house to its original condition. We reached out to our readers to find out what they suggest using to clean up your house after a disaster. If you have significant damage, we always recommend calling an expert, but if you are in the thick of the cleaning and want to know how to proceed, keep reading to see what they recommend.
Basics to Have in Case of Emergency
1. Safety gloves are a must when you are cleaning or repairing a house after a disaster. They can protect you from getting serious injuries from crusted nails or sharp objects which are very common in a damaged house.
2. A hacksaw can be used to cut metal and PVC pipes.
3. Hammer and nails are the most common tool when repairing a house after a disaster.
4. A wrench can be used to fix broken pipes or leaking. Also, it can be used to tighten joints.
5. Ropes can come in handy when you need to pull something or hang something while restoring/cleaning your house.
Plastic Tarps, PPE, and N95 Mask
One of the most important things to have on hand in case of a disaster is plastic tarps. They are incredibly useful for temporarily covering broken windows, doors, and holes in roofs – issues that are common after natural disasters. This ensures that your home doesn’t succumb to more damage from things like rain pouring into your home. You’ll also want to make sure you have duct tape, nails, and rope so you can hang the tarp where needed.
Personal Protective Equipment
When cleaning up after a disaster, you may have to deal with multiple hazards. These include shards of glass, toxic building materials, mold, or even flood water tainted with sewage and industrial waste. You will need PPE to keep you safe during cleanup.
When dealing with debris you will need to wear an N95 mask, heavy-duty boots, cut-resistant work gloves, and a hard hat. For flood cleanup and disinfection, you’ll also need waterproof rubber boots, rubber gloves, and safety goggles.
The destruction from a natural disaster can release a lot of harmful substances into the air, such as asbestos, lead dust, and black mold. To keep yourself safe, make sure you wear a respirator mask during cleanup to protect yourself from breathing in these hazardous materials.
PPE, Water Source, and Hose
A disaster is already a nightmare. If there is a more intense nightmare, that would be the aftermath of a disaster – the restoration. Trying to go back to the normal situation after a disaster is challenging. However, to make your life easier, make sure that you’re equipped with all the tools you need to start restoring your homes. Here are some tools that should be included in your list:
1. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
This includes gloves, goggles, a heavy-duty helmet, ear protection, boots or safety shoes, and high visibility vests. This way, you can confidently work in the damaged site without the fear of meeting an accident.
2. Water source and a hose
Use this to remove the dirt brought by the disaster. If the water can exit your home quickly, there is no need for a pail, but if it can’t, make sure to have a shovel as well.
A Good Quality Rake
Although raking might not seem like the biggest of jobs when it comes to restoring your home, it is probably the cleanup activity that you are going to spend most of your time doing.
You should invest in as high a quality rake as possible for a disaster cleanup project. I would recommend getting a road rake, as this is designed to shift heavy materials like asphalt and gravel. It will not bend or break when trying to move heavy debris.
Vacuum, Rags, and Protection
Cleaning after a disaster can be energy draining. To lessen your struggle, gather all the tools that you need to make your cleaning faster. Here are some examples of tools you may need:
1. A wet and dry vacuum.
If you have a power source, a wet and dry vacuum will make your life easy. It can help you remove all the dirt and water inside your homes. But if you don’t have a power source, a broom, and a pail will help you finish faster.
2. Rags. Tons of rags.
You have to wipe out the dirt and water from the disaster. You can also use these after learning everything to ensure that every part of the house is dry.
3. Something to protect yourself.
You aren’t sure what the disaster did to your homes, so the best tool you need to have been something to protect you from falling objects like a hard hat and metal boots.
Safety Gear and Chainsaws
The most important thing to remember when dealing with disaster cleaning and restoration is safety. Make sure that you are fully equipped with safety gear for the situation. This typically includes goggles, proper gloves, N95 masks, hard hats, waterproof boots with a steel toe, and other situation-specific items. You should also have quick access to fire extinguishers and should always work in teams of at least two people.
Chainsaws are important tools to help clear the area, but take extreme caution to avoid power lines or other things that can cause electric shock.
Something to consider doing quickly is preventing mold growth caused by wetness. Try to clean and dry your house as soon (and as much) as possible. Open all doors and windows for airflow and discard insulation and drywall that has been contaminated.
Fans and Hair Dryers
Where possible, it’s essential to dry out any parts of the home which have been affected by flooding to make sure that there is no mold growth.
The cheapest and most effective way to do this is with a simple ventilator fan or a hairdryer. Focus on the areas which are likely to be most troublesome (flooring, kitchen doors, walls, etc.) to halt any long-term damage.
While it may be somewhat time-consuming, the long-term effects of damp and mold can be much more devastating!
Ax, Chainsaw, Generator, Shovels, and Rakes
Restoring and cleaning up a house after a disaster can be a monumental undertaking depending on the damage. Disasters can be somewhat unpredictable, catching many people unaware and unprepared.
Considering the house has been declared safe to enter, ensuring that it is structurally sound and there are no gas leaks or damaged electrical wires, there are a few tools and pieces of equipment that can help with restoring and cleaning up a house after a disaster.
One or two tools that can prove to be very useful after a disaster are an ax and a well-maintained chainsaw. These will allow you to cut up any trees that might have fallen on your property, and removing them is another step in declaring the house safe to return to.
An important piece of equipment that can prove very useful in helping to restore and clean up a house after a disaster is a generator. During a disaster, it is common for power to be lost due to downed power lines which can take the relevant authorities a few days to restore. Having a backup power generator will provide you with the electricity you will need to begin restoring and cleaning up.
Other common tools such as shovels and rakes can prove to be useful as they can help in clearing debris or digging out trenches if it was a water disaster, to allow any water that might be logged in your property to flow away easily.
Six Tools to Help Clean a House After a Disaster
1. Safety first. Wear protective gear, including a face mask, safety goggles, gloves, and work boots. Shut down your electric power system. Make sure the structure is safe for going in and staying inside.
2. Since you’re most likely working with no electricity, a [battery-powered] handheld vacuum cleaner should be helpful. You can find models that can last up to an hour.
3. You can get a cordless power cleaner as well. These tools are pressure washers and some of them include a detergent bottle attachment. If the disaster took place a few days ago, the dirt has probably settled into your furniture. Water pressure will help to remove that.
4. It is also likely that the house is extremely humid. A dehumidifier will reduce the amount of moisture in the air while limiting the growth of bacteria and mold.
5. You will also need your air to return to a normal level of purity. An air purifier is cheap and effective, and you can rotate each room of your home until you’ve completed your cleaning and restoring.
6. Your floors will be in serious need of a deep clean, and you’ll need the proper equipment to clean them. You should use an industrial broom, a microfiber mop, or even a drill brush attachment may be required. This will remove most of the buildup on your floors and walls. These items are mostly resistant and easy to clean afterward.
Helpful Equipment for Cleaning a House After a Disaster
After a disaster, most of your house probably suffered some damage: walls, floors, ceilings, other surfaces, and furniture.
You’re going to need tools to scrub, sweep, vacuum, and mop your floors. I’m assuming you have no electricity to do so. So, everything must be done by hand or powered by batteries. If you plan on working by night or in places with little natural light, you will also require camping lanterns. They can last many hours and run on batteries.
A drill will be useful for screwing and unscrewing furniture, frames, mirrors, etc. It will come in handy for sure. Industrial-type brooms will help you get the job done faster because of their size.
If possible, look out for models with long handles (for hard-to-reach areas) and stiff bristles.
A cordless vacuum cleaner will be the most effective, considering you have no electricity. The more modern models are both a vacuum cleaner and a mop and can run on batteries.
If there’s a lot of debris, consider renting a dumpster. It will take away all your debris without worrying about plastic bags that break or don’t have that much storage capacity. Look out for anything that’s made out of organic materials, like wood and leather. Those materials are prone to mold, mildew, bugs, and other types of contamination.
You’ll require cleaning supplies. I would start with bleach, baking soda, vinegar, and detergent without ammonia. Try buying in bulk to get a better price. Remember not to enter your home until it’s completely safe to do so.
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