Here is some general advice and precautions to take from The Director of Public Health, Dr. Richard Massé, who would like to remind everyone to be on the alert for the risks and dangers related to electricity, contaminated water and carbon monoxide. He also wants to emphasize the importance of dealing with risks of mould quickly and safely in homes that were flooded. "Public health representatives will attend information sessions organized by the boroughs and will be available to answer flood victims' questions," says Dr. Massé.
To avoid risks of electrocution, it is recommended to wait until authorities give the go-ahead to move back into your home. Have your electrical system inspected by a master electrician before turning it back on.
To avoid risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, generators, pumps and other appliances that run on gasoline or propane should be installed outdoors, at least 3 metres from doors and windows. Get a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas that can be deadly.
On the island of Montréal, water from the water system is drinkable. Tap water that comes from a well is considered undrinkable. In this case, bring water to a rolling boil for one minute before drinking it. If the water is not clear or has an odd smell, don't risk it. Use bottled water. Drinking contaminated water can cause gastroenteritis and more serious health problems.
Flood water is contaminated: Avoid coming in direct contact with it or with objects that have been exposed to this water. If you do, you may develop skin irritations or infections as well as gastroenteritis.Always wear rubber gloves, rubber boots and protective glasses around flood water and when handling contaminated objects. Inside your home, use an N95 protective mask. N95 masks are sold in hardware stores and pharmacies.
Mould grows on all porous surfaces (wood, drywall, fabric, rugs and carpets, sofas, mattresses, etc.) that have been in contact with water for more than 48 hours. It is important to quickly remove these materials to prevent mould from spreading. If there is visible or potential mould, hire a decontamination specialist. Moulds release irritants and allergens that can cause allergies and respiratory problems.
Cutting yourself with a contaminated object or having a wound that comes into contact with contaminated water or soil increases the risk for tetanus. Check to ensure that your tetanus vaccination is up to date; the recommendation is to get a dose every 10 years. To get a booster shot, contact your local CLSC. Source: Direction régionale de santé publique, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
As you can see, this is not a job for amateurs as the flood waters likely contain sewage which poses a serious health hazard. Mould will grow on materials that have been wet or in a very humid environment for more than 48 hours.Before you get pressured by your insurance adjuster or a mould removal company to spend thousands of dollars on a quick, incomplete job, you should get an evaluation by a mould expert on exactly what should be done and how it should be done to ensure your safety and that it gets done completely. We have 20 years of experience in examining mould and other environmental problems in thousands of homes and all other types of buildings. Because we are independent and not tied to any mould removal firm, we can give you completely unbiased advice. We are here for you and will make sure you understand exactly how your home can be safely and thoroughly restored to its preflood (or better) condition.
We not only scientifically evaluate the risk and extent of environmental problems (such as pollutants including mould) in a building, but we can advise you on the safest and most effective specific techniques for solving these problems.