HONEY BEE SAFETY HINTS
Since 1990, a new type of bee has entered the United States and
since that time it has migrated to Southern California. It is known
as the Africanized Honey Bee. What are these bees? Should I be concerned?
And, what should I do in case I encounter "Africanized Honey bees?"
What are Africanized Honey Bees?
Africanized Honey Bees are a cross (hybrid) between European honeybees
that have been with us in the past and the African honeybee. The
new bee is called an "Africanized Honey Bee" and is very similar
to the bees that people have been familiar with here in the Valley
in the past. There is only one difference between the bees, their
The Africanized honeybee is more protective of its hive. Because
of this, they are more hostile or easily agitated. In all other
ways, they are the same as the bees we have seen in the past here
in the Los Angeles Area. The reason people call them "killer bees"
is because they have been responsible for approximately seven deaths
in the United States in the past ten years. They DO NOT have multiple
stingers or poisonous venom in the stinger. The sting is the same
as the European bee. Unlike the European bee, the Africanized bee
will attack by the hundreds or thousands when protecting their hive.
This is the reason they are considered dangerous and potentially
lethal especially to the very young, older people and small animals.
Should I be concerned?
There have been several reports of Africanized Bees in Southern
California within the past year and a few serious attacks. In all
cases, the people who received the multiple stings, survived. Since
the bees are potentially dangerous, people need to be aware that
they are out there. The bees will "never go away" nor can they be
completely exterminated. Bees are responsible for the life of our
trees, flowers and the food we eat. At least one meal per person
per day is possible because of the bee. So "awareness" is the key
to your safety.
Check your home for cracks or holes where the bees might enter and
start a hive. Use insulation, chalk or other fillers to fill holes.
Contact local pest exterminators for advice on how to make your
home and property safe from bees. Remove any old hive boxes not
in use. Do not store junk on the your property that provide protection
to the bees such as old autos, washing machines or old shed. Remove
any dead trees or plants. Hollow trees or dead desert plants serve
as excellent places for bees to build a hive. Keep check on sprinkler
and utility boxes in the ground. The sprinkler box (usually found
in your yard, with a green or black cover) is the MOST popular place
for the bees to build a hive in the Valley. They crawl into the
box through a small hole on the cover. Plug the hole with a cork,
or some other soft substance such as chalk.
What to do if I encounter bees?
LEAVE THEM ALONE. Do not agitate them. Keep the area quiet and calm.
Contact a local exterminator or bee removal service to have the
bees taken away. (NOTE: Any contact with an exterminator or
bee removal service is the responsibility of the person calling.
The County of Los Angeles does not provide extermination or bee
removal service or pay billing for such services if made by a third
Remove any pets or children playing in the area and have them
stay inside a building. Encourage people in the area not to make
noise. Bees are especially attracted to lawnmowers, dogs barking,
weed eaters or other humming noises. They are also attracted to
bright flashing lights. This is why when emergency vehicles respond
to a Bee incident, they do not use "lights or sirens."
What is a Bee Swarm?
Bees swarm in the spring and fall. Bees that are swarming are actually
"homeless bees" looking for a new place to build a hive. Although
they appear awesome and frightening hanging on the sides of buildings,
signs, from tree branches and the like; swarms are passive, which
means they are not as dangerous. If you get too close, you may get
stung, but most likely will not be attacked. The swarm is actually
taking a rest and will move on to find a place to build a hive in
a remote, safe location. If you see a swarm, you should not be alarmed,
but "aware." If the swarm is on your property you should have it
What is a Bee Hive?
The beehive is where the bees live. Made of wax and honeycomb, it
is the place they store their food; honey. When the bees feel that
their hive is threatened, they will protect it aggressively. The
bee does not know if you are a bear, skunk or a human. They are
protecting the hive to keep you from stealing their food and killing
their young, which is natural to all animals and insects.
What to do if you see someone attacked by bees?
If it appears the person is being stung several times by many bees,
and they cannot escape, call 9-1-1 immediately. Advise the person
to seek shelter in a building or vehicles. DO NOT SCREAM or WAVE
YOUR ARMS at the person, this will attract the bees to attack you.
If it appears the person is lying on the ground and is unconscious,
do not try to rescue them. The Bees will leave because the person
is not moving and they will attack you instead. You CAN HELP more
by calling emergency personnel and directing them to the scene.
What to do if YOU are being attacked by bees?
If possible, RUN AS FAST YOU CAN from the bees, in most cases you
can outrun the bees. Cover you face with your hands. Do not scream
or wave your arms, as this will keep the bees attacking. Look for
shelter, such as a building or vehicle. Swimming pools are NOT a
good place to hide. The Bees will wait for you to come up for air
and attack again.
If someone has been stung several times, they should seek medical
attention. If the person becomes dizzy, has difficulty breathing,
or their lips and fingernails turn blue, you should call 9-1-1 immediately.
The person may be suffering an allergic reaction to the stings and
they need immediate medical attention.
PLEASE NOTE:? Los Angeles County Fire Department
does NOT remove swarms of bees or bee hives. This should be done
by professionals and a list of them is available by calling 1-800-BEE-WARY
(NOTE: Any contact with an exterminator or bee removal service is
the responsibility of the person calling. The County of Los Angeles
does not provide extermination or bee removal services or pay billing
for such services if made by a third party.). The Fire Department
only responds in situations where people are stung by bees or to
assist professional exterminators.
For a complete list of licensed/approved exterminators and bee removal
services in Southern California, call 1-800-BEE-WARY. (NOTE: Any
contact with an exterminator or bee removal service is the responsibility
of the person calling. The County of Los ANgeles does not provide
extermination or bee removal services or pay billing for such services
if made by a third party.)
If you feel that a condition warrants special attention or you feel
uncomfortable about a certain situation with bees, you can call
the Fire-Public Information Office at 323-881-2411.
appears that bees are attacking a person or a potential life-threatening
situation exists, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. DO NOT CALL
9-1-1 to report the location of bees flying or swarms of bees.
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Disaster Supplies Kit
version of the Disaster Supplies Kit
There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid
supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items.
Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to
carry container--suggested items are marked with an asterisk(*). Possible containers
include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.
- Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using
containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.
A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each
day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount.
Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
- Store one gallon of water per person per day.
- Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking,
two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).*
- Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods
that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water.
If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact
and lightweight. Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
- Canned juices
- Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
- High energy foods
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods
First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
- Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- Assorted sizes of safety pins
- Cleansing agent/soap
- Latex gloves (2 pairs)
- 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- Triangular bandages (3)
- Non-prescription drugs
- 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
- 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
- Moistened towelettes
- Tongue blades (2)
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for stomach upset)
- Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison
- Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
Tools and Supplies
- Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils*
- Emergency preparedness manual*
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries*
- Flashlight and extra batteries*
- Cash or traveler's checks, change*
- Non-electric can opener, utility knife*
- Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
- Tube tent
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic storage containers
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil
- Needles, thread
- Medicine dropper
- Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
- Plastic sheeting
- Map of the area (for locating shelters)
- Toilet paper, towelettes*
- Soap, liquid detergent*
- Feminine supplies*
- Personal hygiene items*
- Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
- Plastic bucket with tight lid
- Household chlorine bleach
Clothing and Bedding
*Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.
- Sturdy shoes or work boots*
- Rain gear*
- Blankets or sleeping bags*
- Hat and gloves
- Thermal underwear
- Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and
elderly or disabled persons
- Powdered milk
- Heart and high blood pressure medication
- Prescription drugs
- Denture needs
- Contact lenses and supplies
- Extra eye glasses
Important Family Documents
- Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
- Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card account numbers and companies
- Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
- Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
- Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep
a smaller version of the supplies kit in the
trunk of your car.
- Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every
six months so it stays fresh. Replace your stored food every six months. Re-think
your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update
- Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
The text on this page is in the public domain. We request that
attribution to this information be given as follows: From "Disaster Supplies
Kit." developed by the Federal Emergency Management
Agency and the American Red Cross.
Winter Storm ????
Table of Contents
Prepare a Winter Storm Plan
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit
Stay tuned for Storm Warnings
Know what Winter Storm Watches and Warnings mean
When a Winter Storm Watch is issued
When a Winter Storm Warning is issued
If you DO get stuck
Winter Storms... the Deceptive
Killers, in-depth information about winter storm safety from the National
Prepare a Winter Storm Plan
- Have extra blankets on hand.
- Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens,
hat, and water-resistant boots.
a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing--
- First aid kit and essential medications.
- Battery-powered NOAA Weather radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
- Canned food and can opener.
- Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at
least 3 days).
- Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens, and a hat.
- Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit for your car, too.
- Have your car winterized before winter storm season.
Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings. . .
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your
local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
Know What Winter Storm WATCHES and
- A winter storm WATCH means a winter storm is possible in your area.
- A winter storm WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area.
- A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous
wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!
When a Winter Storm WATCH is Issued...
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, and TV stations, or cable TV
such as The Weather Channel for further updates.
- Be alert to changing weather conditions.
- Avoid unnecessary travel.
When a Winter Storm WARNING is Issued...
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep
you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent
loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
- Understand the hazards of wind chill, which combines the cooling effect
of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin.
- As the wind increases, heat is carried away from a person's body at an accelerated
rated, driving down the body temperature.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.
- After the storm, if you shovel snow, be extremely careful. It is physically
strenuous work, so take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion.
- Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must...
- Carry a Disaster
Supplies Kit in the trunk.
- Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel
line from freezing.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to
arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your
If You Do Get Stuck...
- Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the
exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be
- As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and
to stay warm.
- Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
Information on this page provided by : American
Carbon Monoxide Home Safety
CO is an odorless, colorless and tasteless -- yet
deadly -- gas. It is important to understand what causes it and
how to avoid it.
There are precautions that will help avoid exposure to carbon monoxide.
Click on one of the CO sources in the house pictured below to learn
safety tips on how to stop carbon monoxide from invading your home.
Click on a specific area or appliance
on the house...
If you suspect that CO is contaminating your indoor environment, it
is important to act quickly by ventilating the area. If you or a member
of your family has flu-like symptoms immediately evacuate the residence
and call the gas company, oil company, or fire department from a neighbor's
A UL listed carbon monoxide detector is the best protection from this
invisible killer. Make sure that the detector or alarm you are using
has been fully approved for your intended use. For example, do not
use home-use CO alarms in boats or recreational vehicles.
Never unplug or remove the battery to silence a CO detector! There
have been many cases of people doing this, then they go back to
sleep and never wake up! At the very least, ventilate the area and
change the detector's battery. Always assume the worst.
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A chimney that is blocked or clogged due to a bird's nest, leaves,
or soot causes combustion byproducts, including CO, to vent into home.
Cracked masonry could also cause a blockage. Periodic inspection and
cleaning by a chimney sweep helps prevent any difficulties. A screen
cap for the top of the chimney to discourage nest building is also
a good idea.
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Wood-burning and gas powered fireplaces are a common
source of carbon monoxide. Leaving the window open a few inches provides
for circulation of fresh air while preventing negative pressure buildup/backdrafting
which can draw CO and other toxins into the home.
Woodburning Fireplaces: Treated woods, painted wood, and scrap
lumber should not be burned in a fireplace. Burn only seasoned firewood.
Also, before you start a fire in your fireplace, make sure that the
damper is open. Always leave the flue open even if the fire is almost
out. Those last smoldering embers produce a high concentration of
Gas log sets: Gas logs or burners produce a lot of CO since
the less-efficient, yellow flames are desired for a cozy atmosphere.
If you own a ventless fireplaces be particularly careful as these
appliances vent all combustion byproducts into the room. As the fireplace
is run, oxygen is taken from the room to fuel the combustion process.
As less oxygen is available, the combustion becomes less efficient
and more CO is produced. Some gas log sets use a sensor that shuts
down the appliance if oxygen drops to a certain level. The danger
is that the appliance can be producing CO even if oxygen isn't depleted
from the immediate environment. It is a good idea to look for an appliance
with CO safety shutoff device.
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A furnace produces CO because of a mechanical failure as a result
of a cracked heat exchanger, flue or burner problems. Incorrect installation,
damage caused by basement flooding, and pilot lights can produce CO.
Also a clogged or dirty burner can affect the air/fuel mixture resulting
in inefficient combustion. Yellow flames and soot accumulation are
indications that the furnace needs maintenance. Frequent inspection
and regular maintenance of the burner, flue, and chimney should greatly
reduce any CO difficulties with this appliance.
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Ventless space heaters are so dangerous that some
states including California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana,
New York, Utah and Washington prohibit their use. Some of these heaters
use a sensor that shuts down the appliance if oxygen drops to a certain
level. The danger is that the appliance can be producing CO even if
oxygen isn't depleted from the immediate environment. Never use a
heater inside a house or enclosed structure if the operating instructions
tell you not to. Portable heaters and all other unvented appliances
vent all the combustion products directly into the interior of the
home. It is a good idea to look for appliances with CO safety shutoff
devices. Also, leave the window cracked a few inches to allow for
circulation of fresh air if you are using a portable heater.
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Gas stoves and range tops are common sources of CO in a house
since they are often unvented. Regular cleaning of the range top,
oven cavity and burners will alleviate some of the problem. If the
burners are dirty and clogged, the fuel air mixture becomes improperly
adjusted causing inefficient combustion. Older appliances may have
rust or damage to the burner system which may cause CO. Other conditions
that could result in CO being produced are improper installation or
a faulty appliance. Keep in mind that the exhaust fan that is commonly
over the range top is unvented and therefore does not help dissipate
CO. The fan provides filtration of grease vapor and soot generated
during cooking. The best way to avoid these difficulties is to have
regular maintenance done to include cleaning and adjustment of the
air/fuel mixture. Also, never warm the house using your natural gas
or propane oven.
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A water heater is a potential source of carbon monoxide. The appliance
may be faulty as purchased or installed improperly. Basement flooding
may have caused damage to make the heater function inefficiently.
A clogged burner, blocked vent or even the pilot light can produce
CO. Danger signs that CO is being produced include a yellow burner
flame and soot buildup. Regular maintenance to ensure air/fuel mixture
is adjusted correctly and cleaning of the burner components is recommended
to ensure protection from CO poisoning.
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A gas clothes dryer that is purchased faulty or installed incorrectly
can be a CO hazard. Damage caused by flooding and exhaust pipes clogged
with lint could also cause CO to buildup. The burner can become dirty
or clogged and affect the air/fuel mixture resulting in inefficient,
CO-producing combustion. Frequent inspection and regular maintenance
of the burner are good preventive measures. Also, clean the lint filter
after every load of laundry.
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Grills, barbecues and hibachis should never be used indoors,
or even inside the garage or on a porch or patio. The smoldering embers
of charcoal produce great amounts of CO. Always take care to grill
a fair distance away from the windows of your house.
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Probably the greatest CO danger in a residence is a running
car in an attached garage, especially if the garage door is closed.
Take these precautions:
Never warm up your car in the garage. Even if the garage door is open,
a pocket of CO could form due to temperature variances. Wind can help
or hinder dispersion of CO.
Leave the overhead door open for at least a few minutes after you
have pulled your car into the garage. The same precautions should
be followed when using any combustion appliance including lawnmowers,
snowblowers, generators, lawn tools, snow mobiles, motorcycles, etc.
Also, garages should have outside air vents.
Multiple car garages, as are common in apartment houses and condos,
are particularly dangerous. A commercial CO detector that activates
ventilation controls is recommended for use in these structures.
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Insulation does reduce heat loss and keep those energy bills down
but remember you are also cutting down your fresh air supply in your
home making combustion less efficient and increasing your CO risk.
Creating an energy efficient home could create a negative pressure
and cause a backdrafting effect that would draw fumes into your home
instead of exhausting them to the exterior. All fuel-burning appliances
need to be in good working condition and exhausted to the exterior.
Remember that it is always a good idea to make sure there is adequate
fresh air for efficient combustion to take place. Crack your window
or door. Saving a life is more important than saving a few dollars
on your fuel bill.
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Controlling Snakes After the Storm or Flood
Snakes, like other residents in the path of storms and floods,
have been displaced and left homeless. As a result, many of these
animals are seeking shelter and food in areas close to people.
These areas, out of the way of high water, include the inside of
homes, storage sheds, barns and other buildings. Damaged
structures have a higher probability of attracting snakes because
of the many accessible entrances. Displaced snakes may be found
under debris scattered by the flood or in debris piles created
during the cleanup effort.
Missouri has many more species of nonpoisonous snakes than
poisonous snakes. Both poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes are
beneficial to people because they keep down rodent populations.
Since rodents also are displaced by flooding, this is especially
Watch where you place your hands and feet when removing
or cleaning debris. If possible, don't place your fingers
under debris you intend to move.
Wear snake-proof boots at least 10 inches high or snake
leggings in heavy debris areas where snakes are likely to
Never step over logs or other obstacles unless you can
see the other side.
If you encounter a snake, step back and allow it to
proceed on its way. Snakes usually do not move fast, and
a person easily can retreat from its path.
Try to isolate the snake within a room or small area.
Capture nonpoisonous snakes by pinning them down with a
long stick or pole, preferably forked at one end, and
then remove by scooping them up with a flat-blade shovel.
If you are uncomfortable removing the snake yourself,
seek someone within the community who has experience
handling snakes. A good starting point is your local
animal control shelter or sheriff's department.
As a last resort, you may need to kill a poisonous snake.
Club it with a long stick, rod or other tool such as a
garden hoe. Never try to kill a poisonous snake with an
instrument that brings you within the snake's striking
range--usually estimated at less than one-half the total
length of the snake.
Exclude snakes from your home by sealing openings
1/4-inch and larger. Check areas such as the corners of
doors and windows, around water pipes and electrical
service entrances. Holes in masonry foundations should be
sealed with mortar. Holes in wooden buildings can be
sealed with fine 1/8-inch mesh hardware cloth or sheet
Make your yard unattractive to snakes by removing debris
from around the home as soon as possible. This attracts
rodents that snakes feed on and also provides shelter for
snakes. Vegetation around the home should be kept closely
No legal toxicants or fumigants are registered to control
snakes. Repellents are available, but are not effective.
If you are bitten by a poisonous snake, don't try to
treat the bite yourself. Go to the nearest hospital for
treatment immediately. If the bite breaks the skin, even
nonpoisonous snakes can cause infections, so seek medical
Learn to identify nonpoisonous and poisonous snakes.
Back to the Flood Response page
Wet hay requires careful monitoring
Wet hay molds quickly and heats, then spontaneous combustion can occur within two or
three days Therefore, special care is needed if hay becomes wet.
University Extension specialists recommend wet hay be spread out to dry quickly and
turned often as it is drying. Hay storage areas should be monitored often for pungent
odors, hot damp areas on the stack, emission of water vapors and other signs of heating.
Knowing the temperature of the hay is important. To check the stack's temperature,
drive a sharp-pointed pipe down into the hay, lower a thermometer inside the pipe, and
leave it there for about 20 minutes. Make the reading quickly when the thermometer is
Use these guidelines to determine the danger zone:
- Observe daily hay that has reached 150 degrees.
- Inspect hay at 160 degrees every four hours.
- Keep an adequate water supply on hand, and request the fire department to standby if hay
has reached 175 degrees--when hot spots or fire pockets are possible.
- Remove hay that has reached 185 degrees, and deposit it a safe distance from buildings;
flames may develop when air comes in contact with the hay.
- Hay is almost certain to ignite at 210 degrees.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Do not allow workers to enter the mow alone. Put
ropes around their waists because of the danger of falling into fire pockets. Use long
planks across the top of the hay for workers to stand on.
Back to the Flood Response page
Care of flood-damaged
Upholstered furniture that has been submerged in flood waters
may be impossible to salvage if it has been badly soaked. If the
piece seems worth the effort, you will need to clean and oil the
springs, replace stuffing and clean the frame.
Stuffing and covering
- Remove furniture coverings using a ripping tool, hammer,
tack puller, screwdriver or chisel.
- Remove all tacks from the frame.
- Wash coverings as described for carpets (link).
- Throw away all cotton stuffing. You can dry, fumigate and
reuse padding made of other materials.
Springs and frame
- Wipe off springs and frame. Dry all metal parts and coat
with rust-inhibiting paint. Oil springs.
- Store wood frames where they will dry slowly.
Mildew may develop on damp or wet furniture. Mildew is a
gray-white mold that leaves stains and rots fabric unless it is
removed promptly. To remove mildew or mildew spots:
- Brush with a broom to remove loose mold from outer
covering. Do this outdoors if possible, so you won't
scatter mildew spores which can start new growth in the
- Vacuum the surface to draw out mold. Dispose of the
vacuum cleaner bag outside to avoid scattering mold
spores in the house.
- If mildew remains and fabric is washable, sponge lightly
with thick soap or detergent suds. Wipe with a clean,
damp cloth. Get as little water on the fabric as
possible, so the padding doesn't get wet.
- If mold remains, wipe the furniture with a damp cloth
dipped in diluted alcohol (1 cup denatured alcohol to 1
cup water) or a chlorine bleach solution (1/4 teaspoon
bleach to a cup of water).
- Dry article thoroughly.
- Use a low-pressure spray containing a fungicide to get
rid of must odors and remaining mildew. Moisten all
surfaces thoroughly. Respray frequently if mildew is a
continuing problem. Spraying rooms with an aerosol
material will not eliminate mildew problems.
- If molds have grown into inner parts, send furniture to a
dry cleaning or storage company for thorough drying and
fumigation. Fumigation will kill molds present at the
time but will not protect against future attacks.
Back to the Flood Response page
Restoring Flood-Soiled Bedding
A good innerspring mattress should be sent to a commercial
renovating company. Renovation is too difficult to do at home.
Ask about the cost of such work. It could be less expensive to
buy a good reconditioned or new mattress.
If mattress must be used temporarily, scrape off surface dirt
and expose it to sunlight to dry as much as possible. Cover
mattress with a rubber sheet before using it.
If you decide to keep any flood-soiled mattress, it should be
sterilized. This must be done at a sterilizing plant--a mattress
company or a state hospital. Ask your public health department
for information on mattress sterilizing plants in your area.
Have mattresses as dry as possible before taking them to a
sterilizing plant. Crop drying fans or household fans may speed
up the drying process.
If pillows have been badly soaked, it may not be possible to
remove all objectionable odors.
If ticking is in good condition, wash feathers and
- Brush off surface dirt.
- To circulate water through pillows, open a few inches
of the seam in opposite corners of the pillow, turn
edges in, sew loosely with strong thread, or fasten
with safety pins.
- Wash in machine or by hand in warm (not hot) suds 15
to 20 minutes. Use a disinfectant in the wash cycle.
If using an automatic washer, do not wash more than
two pillows at a time.
- Rinse at least three times in clear, warm water.
- Spin off water or gently squeeze out as much water as
possible. Do not put pillows through a wringer.
- Dry in an automatic dryer at moderate heat setting,
or dry in a warm room with a fan, or across two or
three clotheslines. Put several bath towels in dryer
with pillows to speed up drying. Allow at least 2
hours. Shake up feather occasionally to hasten
- If ticking is not in good condition, or if pillow is
badly soiled, wash feather and ticking separately.
- Find a muslin bag which is two or three times larger
than the ticking
- Open one edge of ticking.
- Sew the open edges of the ticking and the bag
- Shake the feather from ticking to muslin bag.
- Close seam of bag.
- Wash bag of feather in lukewarm, sudsy water and
- Repeat if necessary.
- Rinse in lukewarm water, changing water several
- Squeeze out as much water as possible by hand. Do not
use a wringer.
- To air-dry, hang on line by two corners. Change
positions end to end and shake feather occasionally
to speed up drying.
- Finish drying pillows by laying them on a flat
surface or pinning them to a clothesline to dry in
the open air.
- Wash the ticking. With a sponge, apply a starch
solution to the inside of the ticking.
- Transfer clean feather to the clean, sanitized
starched ticking, using the same methods as for
- Close seam of ticking
Polyester fiberfill pillows
- Brush off surface dirt.
- Wash by hand in warm water and low-sudsing detergent.
Add a disinfectant to the wash water. Flush water
through pillow by compressing it. (Twisting and
wringing will tear filling). Change water and repeat
- Rinse three times in clear, warm water.
- Spin off water in automatic machine. Tumble dry in
dryer at moderate setting with several bath towels,
or press out as much water as possible by hand, and
hang on line outdoors to dry.
Foam rubber or urethane pillows
- Remove cover. Brush off surface dirt.
- Follow manufacturer's directions if they are available.
Otherwise, soak in cool water; then wash in warm suds by
hand. Use a bathtub or large sink. Then wash by pushing
down on pillow, releasing, and pushing down again. Rinse
the same way. Pillows can be machine-washed on gentle
cycle with lukewarm water plus a disinfectant.
- Rinse well in lukewarm water.
- Gently squeeze or spin out excess water. Blot with
- Dry away from heat and sunlight. Do not dry in dryer
unless on an air only setting. Pillows may dry very
slowly in the air.
Back to the Flood Response page
A Step-By-Step Guide to Restoration
Caution! BEFORE DOING ANYTHING?Does
the outside inspection show the structure is safe?
- Check for structural damage to see if it is
safe to enter the building.
- Watch for electrical shorts and live wires.
Electrical safety is most important in floods.
Make sure that electrical service is
DISCONNECTED and CANNOT be turned on before
entering any structure.
- Turn off any outside gas lines at the tank
or meter, and let the building air out for
several minutes to remove gas fumes.
Steps Towards Clean up
- See that everyone is out of danger of new
flood crests, falling buildings, fire or other
- Contact your insurance agent immediately.
Give your name, address and a phone number
where you can be reached.
- Take pictures of the damage before beginning
- Keep accurate records. List all clean-up and
repair bills, flood-related living expenses
and actual losses, such as furniture,
appliances, clothing, etc
- Adjuster will assess damage to house. Owner
should sign proof-of-loss statement.
Additional damages can be added when found.
- If you have a question or problem with your
insurance carrier, contact the Missouri
Department of Insurance: 1-800-726-7390.
Information & Referrals
Contact local, state and federal offices for
help and answers to specific clean-up questions.
Your University Outreach and Extension center
can help with food and water safety, cleanup and
restoration questions or referrals. Find
offers parents and others with resources to help
children cope: 1-800-552-8522
- Be sure utilities are disconnected before
entering the building for the first time.
- Disconnect main switch and all circuits. If
the main switch is located in the basement, be
sure all flood water is pumped out BEFORE
attempting any work on electrical systems.
- Remove covers and clean all outlets and fuse
or multi-breaker boxes.
- Dry contacts and spray with
- Have an electrician check for ground faults
and other unsafe conditions and equipment
before reconnecting systems. Equipment and
wiring that appears to be safe soon after
flooding may fail prematurely and cause a fire
or shock hazard. Replacement is often the best
option. Circuit breakers that have been
submerged should be replaced.
Food & Water Sanitation
Until your local water utility or county health
department declares your water source safe, purify
all water, not only for drinking and cooking, but
also for washing any part of the body.
To sterilize water, use one of these methods:
- Boil vigorously for 3 minutes.
- Add unscented chlorine laundry bleach (1/2
teaspoon per 2 ? gallons of water).
- Add tincture of iodine (12 drops per gallon
Food: Discard all foods, 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. Contact your
local University Outreach and Extension center for
proper disposal and decontamination guidelines.
Carpets and rugs:
- Carpets and rugs may be cleaned best by
- To clean them yourself, pull up water-logged
carpets, rugs and pads and dry outside on a
clean, flat surface, such as a concrete
driveway. If the rug is placed face down,
stains will wick to the back instead of to the
- Hose off and, if badly soiled, add
detergent. Work detergent into carpet with
broom and rinse well. Remove as much water as
possible quickly using steam, fans or
water-extraction equipment. Take care to avoid
- To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a
solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach
per gallon of water. If the carpet is wool, do
NOT add bleach.
- Dry carpet and floor thoroughly before
carpet is replaced If carpet is put down wet,
it may mildew. Carpet and backing may shrink.
- Discard all padding.
- Layers of submerged plywood subfloors may
- Sections that separate must be replaced to
keep floor covering from buckling.
- When floor coverings are removed, allow
subflooring to dry thoroughly (it may take
several months). Check for warping before
installing new flooring.
- Carefully remove a board every few feet to
reduce buckling caused by swelling. Consult a
carpenter about removal techniques for
- Clean and dry floor thoroughly (may take
several weeks or months) before replacing
boards and attempting repairs.
Tile and sheet-vinyl floors:
- If submerged subfloor is wood, floor
covering probably should be removed so
subflooring can be replaced. If floor has not
been soaked, loose tiles may be recemented
after floor is thoroughly dry.
- If subflooring is concrete, removing floor
covering will hasten drying of slab. Removal
may not be necessary if it would ruin an
otherwise unharmed material.
- If water has seeped under loose sections of
sheet flooring, remove entire sheet.
- Contact a reputable dealer to find out what
solvent and technique will loosen the adhesive
with the least damage to the floor. Ease of
removal depends on the type of material and
- Take furniture outdoors to clean. Hose or
brush off mud. All parts (drawers, doors,
etc.) should be removed. Remove or cut hole in
back to push out stuck drawers and doors.
- Dry slowly out of direct sunlight. (hot
sunlight will warp furniture.) It may take
several weeks to several months to dry.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Wash exposed skin parts (hands, feet, etc.)
frequently in purified water. Wear rubber
gloves for extra protection against
- As flood waters recede, use a disinfectant
to clean walls and woodwork from top to
bottom. A 3-gallon garden sprayer works well.
One cup of household chlorine bleach per
gallon of water can be used as a disinfectant.
Scrub with a brush to help remove mud and
- Rinse with clean water. Dry thoroughly. If
utilities are on, use heater, fan or air
conditioner to speed drying.
- Submerged appliances must be cleaned and
dried before starting.
- With electricity or fuel turned off, unplug
and open as much as possible to rinse or wipe
clean and let dry.
- Tilt to drain and aid quick drying. Three
days to a week is necessary for drying.
- Appliance repair person should check before
reconnecting. Most motorized appliances can be
- Remove water from structure as rapidly as
- Remove interior surface of insulated walls
to point above water height.
- Remove and discard wet insulation.
- Treat interior wall studs and plates with
disinfectant to prevent growth of
- Provide ventilation by opening windows and
doors and using fans.
- Leave walls open for up to four weeks or
until they have thoroughly dried.
- Select replacement materials that will
withstand future floods.
- Delay permanent repairs until buildings are
thoroughly dry (may be several weeks).
- Control mildew in the weeks and months that
- If an air conditioner is available, use it
to remove moisture.
- In homes that are not air-conditioned, open
as many windows as possible. Use fans to
- Turn on electric lights in closets, and
leave doors open to dry.
- Let lights stay on as long as dampness or
high humidity is present to help dry and
prevent mildew growth.
Removing Mildew From Household Articles
- Brush off mold and mildew growth outdoors to
prevent scattering of spores in the house.
- Run a vacuum cleaner attachment over the
area to draw out more of the mold. Discard
vacuum bag immediately.
- Sponge any remaining mildew with thick suds.
Wipe with a clean, barely damp cloth.
- Wipe mildew-stained area with cloth dampened
with diluted alcohol: 1 cup rubbing
(denatured) alcohol to 1 cup of water and dry
- Spray with fungicide or other commercial
- Dry article thoroughly.
Back to the Flood Response page
Garden produce exposed to flood waters is not safe to eat. Do
not attempt to disinfect, save or preserve crops--not even root
If plants survive, the new produce that forms on them after
the flood waters have receded are safe to consume. It will take
about a month for gardens to become clean.
Back to the Flood Response page
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