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What to Keep and What to Discard: Indoors
By Terry Allen
While part 1 of this article covered outdoors building materials, this part will cover the indoors.
Again, the general rule is: anything you cannot wash and disinfect should be thrown away.
The following guidelines are applicable only if the damage is caused by clean water. If you know or suspect that the water source was contaminated with sewage, chemical or biological pollutants, consult a restoration professional immediately.
Do not use fans for dry-out before determining that the water is clean and sanitary.
Indoors Furnishings and Personal Belongings
Like with building materials, consult a restoration specialist if you are indecisive about high value or sentimental items.
- Upholstered furniture may be impossible to salvage if it has been badly soaked or if it has been submersed in waters for more than 24-48 hours. If you find signs of mold, discard the item.
- Hardwood furniture can be salvaged if dried thoroughly with 24-48 hours and no mold growth is found.
- Laminate furniture that has become delaminated should be disposed of because the pressed wood under the laminate absorbs water and is difficult to dry.
- Furniture made of particle board or pressed wafer board should be discarded. The exception would be if the furniture has become wet due to a steam leak.
- Appliances and electrical devices must be carefully examined, preferably by an electrician. Discard all circuit breakers and fuses that have been submerged.
- Books and papers can be often salvaged if treated properly. Do not press, open or close books or folded documents. Keep all water damaged books, documents, artwork, and photos in frost-free freezer or meat locker for a later treatment.
- Window drapes can mostly be dried and restored using different techniques depending on the type of fabric.
- Toys and play equipment must be discarded if waterlogged or not cleanable. Discard all stuffed toys. If you can't completely clean and disinfect, discard any item a toddler or baby might put in his mouth.
- Fabrics, clothes and linen can usually be washed and salvaged but must be discarded if drenched or heavily contaminated.
Food and Kitchenware
- Discard all foods and medicines, including garden produce, that have come in contact with flood waters. Only foods sealed in airtight metal cans that are not bulging or damaged and have been properly sanitized can be saved.
- If you've lost power for more than two hours, discard any perishable foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers that have been above 40 °F for two hours or more.
- Sanitize dishes, cooking utensils and food preparation areas before using them.
- Throw away wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers, since it's nearly impossible to safely clean them.
- Until determined safe, purify all water for drinking and cooking.
What to Keep and What to Discard? Outdoors.
After determining what to keep and what to discard indoors, you will have to determine what building materials can be cleaned and used again and what must be discarded. This guide will teach you how.
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