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Cal OES Mold
Storm Season Safety: Mold Prevention and Safety 

February 12, 2024 - Most recently, Southern California has seen widespread rainfall amounts of 3-6 inches, with local amounts of 7-14 inches.  

Although mold is common it can be found in places that have experienced extreme amounts of water and flooding.   

Following the significant rainfall and flooding, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) would like to remind everyone of the steps they can take to protect themselves and their families from post storm related hazards.

View video here.

Avoiding Mold  

According to the California Department of Public Health, if these items have been damaged by flooding, try to dry them out first if there is no visible mold present. If mold is visible, the below items should be thrown out immediately.  

  • Carpet 
  • Drywall 
  • Ceiling tile 
  • Fabric 
  • Foam  
  • Cardboard  
  • Paper 
  • Particle board 

After a flood, avoiding mold and moisture is critical. These steps can help keep you aware of common sources.  

  • Make sure you have good air flow whenever moisture is being. 
  • Check crawlspaces and basements for dampness and seal any leaks or cracks.  
  • Run dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture from damp indoor places, like basements.  
  • Make sure your roof is in good condition and fix leaks as soon as possible. 
  • Aim garden sprinkler sprays away from the house.  
  • Be sure gutters and downspouts are clear and drain water away from your home.  
  • Be sure the ground outside, all around the house, slopes away from your house.  
  • If you have a leak or flooding, take care of moisture immediately. 

Learning the Mold Signs 

Mold growth can be visible, or it may be concealed underneath or behind water-damaged surfaces like behind furniture, along and behind baseboards, or inside walls, floors or ceilings. Mold can be hard to detect if you do not know where to look or what the signs are:  

  • Areas on floors, ceilings, walls or furniture that look stained or discolored. 
  • An earthy or musty smell 
  • Water stains on walls or ceilings 
  • Water damage, such as warped floors, peeling or bubbling paint. 

Cleaning Mold 

Before starting any cleanup activities in the home after a flood, take pictures and videos of damage to the home and belongings to provide your insurance company. After taking photos, safely throw away damaged items that pose a health risk, so that the cleanup process can start. 

Then, cleaning up any standing water or debris first. Use caution when removing standing water from your home. For more information on removing standing water check out: Flooded Homes: Removing Standing Water & Mucking Out – YouTube 

How to Remove Mold and Repair Your Home   

The California Department of Public Health offers tips on cleaning mold after disasters.  

  • First, fix the moisture problem and remove any excess water—a wet/dry vacuum cleaner may help remove water and clean the area.  
  • Close off the work area to keep dust and spores from spreading to other areas. 
  • Close the door or use plastic sheets to separate the room.  
  • Set up a fan to pull the air out through a window or door to the outside.  
  • Scrub the entire moldy area with a non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner, in hot water, using sponges or rags, until all mold is gone.  
  • Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on cement-block walls and other uneven surfaces.  
  • Rinse cleaned items with water and dry thoroughly.  

What can I keep?   

  • Keep items and materials that do not absorb water (made of glass, plastic, metal, or ceramics) and can be cleaned of mold. 
  • Keep items that do not have mold on them and do not smell moldy.  
  • Some washable moldy items like clothing and bedding may be cleaned well enough to keep, so it may be worth trying. 

Before Cleaning up mold or potential moldy items, follow these steps to ensure you are protecting yourself from the harmful reactions mold can cause.   

  • Protect yourself. Put on personal protective equipment (gloves, mask, goggles) to protect your eyes, nose, mouth, and skin.  
  • Toss! Take it out! Anything that was wet with flood water and can’t be cleaned and dried out completely within 24 to 48 hours should be taken outside. Take photos of discarded items for filing insurance claims. 
  • Air it out. Open all doors and windows when you are working and leave as many open as you safely can when you leave.  
  • Circulate. When electricity is safe to use, use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture.  
  • Don’t mix cleaners. If you use cleaning products, do not mix cleaning products together. DO NOT mix bleach and ammonia because it can create toxic vapors.  
  • Scrub surfaces. Clean with water and a detergent. Remove all mold you can see. Dry right away.  
  • Don’t cover it, remove it. Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent mold from growing. Fix the water problem completely and clean up all the mold before you paint or caulk.  
  • Dry it up. Dry your home and everything in it as quickly as possible – within 24 to 48 hours if you can. 

Keeping Items in a flooded Area 

Knowing what items are safe to keep after a flood event can help your family start to recover. Look for items that do not absorb water like glass, plastic, metal, or ceramics. Even if these items have mold damage they can be safely cleaned.  

Make sure you are checking all items like clothing, bedding, curtains, or other fabric. Some fabrics can be cleaned of mold damaged while others cannot. 

Check out what to keep and what to throw out for more information.  

Resources 

For more information please visit: 

Source: Cal OES

Related: 

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Returning Home After a Flood

Cal OES Announces Lower Elevation Snow to Return to Mountain Communities in California

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Driving During a Storm

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Evacuation Warning vs. Evacuation Order

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Cal OES Issues List of Where You Can Find Sandbags in Your County

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Precipitation Preparation - Stay Safe During Increased Rainfall

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Preparing for Winter Storm Winds

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: During a Flood - Turn Around, Don’t Drown

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Staying Safe and Alert on the Road

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Keep Your Family Warm, Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather This Winter

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Wet Weather Defense

Cal OES on Storm Season Safety: Staying Safe and Alert on the Road

Storm Season Safety: Planning Your Route - Cal OES Encourages All Californians to Be Storm Ready