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DHS news release


Dec. 7, 2007

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282

Public health officials offer protective clean-up guidelines

The Oregon Department of Human Services today issued protective guidelines for home and business owners who are beginning clean-up work on their properties.

  • Always wear waterproof gloves and footwear, long-sleeved shirts, full-length pants and protective eyewear when doing flood clean-up.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water after flood clean-up or handling potentially contaminated articles. It is also important to clean protective gear after use.

Standing water, wet building materials and furnishings are excellent environments for microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and mold, says Rick Leiker, toxicology program manager in the DHS Public Health Division.

"If not removed, these organisms can cause allergic reactions, diseases and asthmatic attacks to people after they move back into their homes and businesses," Leiker says.

To ensure a healthy indoor environment, Leiker advises:

  • Remove all standing water from the building.
  • Dry the building out as quickly as possible to prevent growth of mold and mildew.
  • Remove all wet materials. If articles have been soaked and cannot be dried rapidly and thoroughly, dispose of them. This includes larger absorbent materials and furniture such as sofas, mattresses, carpets, carpet pads, as well as wallboard and all insulation materials.
  • Take up and remove carpets. Clean, disinfect and thoroughly dry sub- flooring before installing new carpet.
  • Remove valuable stuffed furniture and carpets and have them commercial cleaned and dried.
  • Clean and thoroughly dry flooded heating and ventilation ductwork.
  • Use caution when using chemical cleaners and disinfectants. Read and follow product directions and use in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not use combustion space heaters in enclosed spaces when drying areas out. These include heaters that run on gas, kerosene, propane, or natural gas.

Flood-damaged debris can be placed in normal garbage or taken to regular waste collection and transfer stations. Hazardous materials should be taken to specially designated hazardous waste collection centers.

Additional flood recovery information is on the DHS Public Health Division Web site. For more information about Oregon's severe winter storm efforts please visit the Governor's Web site.