How to Clean Up Safely After a Hurricane
After the storm, and once you’ve determined that everyone is safe, it’s time to stay protected and clean up safely. Hurricane cleanup comes in many different varieties because there are so many different types of damage that can occur.
Our hurricane safe cleanup tips are designed to give you a starting point and help you navigate through the process. Learn more about hurricane cleanup safety and gather the equipment you need and protective gear.
Prepare for Cleanup Before the Hurricane Hits
Preparing for disaster cleanup — in the months leading up to hurricane season — can really pay off if you find yourself hunkering down and later in the throes of hurricane recovery. From safety equipment to disinfecting chemicals, you’ll need to gather these hurricane cleanup supplies and store them safely so they’re ready when you need them.
Take a look at these hurricane cleanup tips to help quickly get your life back to normal.
Safety gear for hurricane cleanup
Before any cleanup begins, be sure you’re wearing your hurricane safety gear, including personal protective hurricane clothing. Here are a few essentials tools and items of clothing that you should pick up to help you stay safe:
- Waterproof boots that are thick-soled, chemical resistant
- Waterproof, chemical resistant work gloves
- NOISH-approved half or full-face N95 respirator (P or R ratings are acceptable) for removal of mold
- Hard hat
- Ear protection: either ear plugs or over the ear, if you’ll be working in noisy conditions
- At least two charged and inspected fire extinguishers
General Hurricane Cleanup Safety Tips
Cleaning up your home in the aftermath of a hurricane can be challenging. Be sure to get suited up and work in pairs with another person. It’s also important to pace yourself. When the weather is hot and humid, be sure you’re taking breaks and drinking plenty of water. Prioritize your work based on the greatest need.
Explore these key ideas to help you work safely when cleaning up your home after a hurricane:
1. Open all windows and doors
Water damage is a big concern, and the faster you can remove that moisture and humidity, the better. Opening all windows and doors allows for the free passage of air to affected areas. Open interior home doors as well — even cupboard doors.
2. Protect yourself
If there is visible mold growth it’s time to wear rubber gloves and respiratory masks. Even if there isn’t mold, you’ll probably want a good pair of gloves and sturdy shoes to protect from any sharp debris or insects that may have moved into the wreckage.
3. Remove unsalvageable items
Your local government will give you information on where to place debris, but in the meantime, it’s best to move it out of the house. Take pictures of unsalvageable items and check with your insurance company to see if they want you to hold onto them until an adjuster can come and evaluate the damage.
4. Action for flooded houses
If your home has flooded then all damaged rugs, carpets and carpet padding should be photographed and removed. Water damaged sheet rock and insulation also needs to be cut about four inches above the water line and removed as well.
5. Disinfect and sanitize
The rule of thumb when cleaning household mold and water damaged areas is to mix one cup bleach to one gallon water. A spritzer bottle works well to evenly distribute the mixture. If you want to step up your game, try a disinfectant or sanitizer that is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be used in flood-impacted buildings.
Contact your American Family Insurance agent to get more information on documenting the damage. Visit the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and our article on 10 Steps to Take After a Hurricane for more tips on recovering from a natural disaster.