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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Health and Safety: Top Concerns of Water Damage

12/9/2019 (Permalink)

Preparation is key in responding to water damage. If you’ve ever called a restoration company about water damage mitigation, you’ll remember that a number of questions were asked over the phone. Those questions are designed to better prepare crews and technicians for the scene they’re walking into. They must make sure they have any necessary safety equipment that would be required for them to do their jobs properly. You’ll also be asked in detail about the source of the water damage or where it originated from. Water is broken down into three categories of contamination in our industry. Each one must be handled slightly different than the others and requires varying degrees of safety equipment.

Category 1 – Water that originates from a sanitary source and does not pose substantial harm to humans. Some examples of Category 1 water could be: broken/leaking water supply lines, tub or sink overflows with no contaminants, appliance malfunctions involving water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rainwater, broken toilet tanks and toilet bowls that do not contain contaminants or additives. However, once clean water leaves its exit point, it is possible that it can become contaminated by contacting other surfaces or materials such as: building materials, systems and contents or soils. Wearing gloves and/or rubber shoes is advised when cleaning category 1 water.

Category 2 – Water that contains a significant level of contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans. This category can contain potentially unsafe levels of microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms, organic or inorganic matter. This could include: discharge from dishwashers or washing machines, overflows from washing machines, overflows from toilet bowls, broken aquariums and punctured water beds. It is important to take moderate safety precautions when handling water of this nature. Gloves and rubber shoes as well as eye protection and in some cases full body coverage is necessary.

Category 3 – Water that is highly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents. Elderly persons, those under age two and anyone that has a compromised immune system, respiratory problems or allergies should not occupy the job site until the building is safe. Examples of category 3 water include: sewage, all forms of sea water, ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams, and other contaminated water entering or affecting indoor spaces. Most organizations require that any personnel that encounters this category of water use proper protective equipment to include: splash goggles, rubber gloves, boots, coveralls and a respirator.

Water damage remediation is not a DIY project, trained professionals are the only ones who should attempt to dry out or remove affected materials following a water loss. Failure to do so can result in the growth of mold as well as numerous other harmful organisms. If you’ve experienced water damage in your home or business, call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork!

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