If your carpet has been damaged by unsanitary water, or if it’s been wet long enough to start growing mold, you should use the services of a professional water damage restoration firm.
Many of the safety precautions to observe when dealing with water damage caused by sewage are simple, common sense ones. To avoid infection, it is imperative not to come into direct contact with sewage, so it is essential you wear protective clothing during water clean up. Remember though, protective gear (disposable plastic gloves, goggles and face visors, leak-proof rubber boots, etc.) won’t do you any good if you absentmindedly rub your eyes, scratch your nose, pull at your ears or pop something into your mouth with your plastic-gloved hands or fingers while engrossed in water damage restoration of sewage-contaminated objects. If you have any cuts or sores on your hands or fingers, take extra precautions to cover them up, and apply antibiotic ointment after you have finished working.
Wash Your Hands
When it’s time to break for lunch after sewage water clean up, slip off those plastic gloves and wash your hands with disinfectant before you grab that sandwich. You should wash your hands frequently, using the disinfectant every time. Hopefully, the water damage to your home (if it is your home) won’t have affected all the showers because you should be able to shower frequently using disinfectant soap, a nail brush, and clean towels.
Dispose of Contaminated Items
Some of the objects contaminated by sewage are salvageable and can be saved by water damage restoration processes. Others, particularly exposed food, objects made of porous material like stuffed toys, carpeting, upholstered furniture, all books and paper products, and all medical supplies, will have to be disposed of – and the sooner, the better.
Disinfect All Salvageable Items
Salvageable items that can be restored to pre-water damage condition must be disinfected. Contaminated clothes must be washed in hot water and detergent. If the original cause of water damage was in your home, it’s best to use a Laundromat or to send your laundry out to be dry-cleaned.
Take Action Right Away
Sanitizing is the central part of water damage restoration of objects contaminated by sewage. The sanitization process to follow varies slightly according to the extent of contamination (length of time the sewage has been in contact with the contaminated areas/objects, the content of sewage and porosity of affected items). That’s why the first and most important safety precaution is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The longer sewage remains in the affected location, the more of a health risk it becomes. If you don’t react immediately, more of your belongings will be too contaminated by the sewage damage.
Some General Guidelines
Although it is best to get a professional assessment to determine which decontamination techniques are needed for each case, some general hygiene guidelines you should observe are listed below:
- You don’t need to discard food in sealed metal cans. However, you should remove the labels, wash the cans in detergent and place them in a chlorine solution (bleach and water), then air dry.
- Clean all affected walls and hard surfaces with hot water and detergent and disinfect with a chlorine solution. After water cleans up, let dry completely to guard against mold.
- Toxic vapors develop when bleach is mixed with ammonia. So remember not to use ammonia cleansers on items or surfaces that you had previously disinfected with a chlorine solution.
- You should use hand sanitizers – but don’t come near a source of flame after you’ve just done so.
- Finally, as in all water damage situations, remember to immediately disconnect all electrical equipment (including battery back-ups).