Cleaning And Disinfecting Are Order Of The Day

Posted: June 23, 1996

The Bucks County Department of Health circulated a tip sheet on how to clean up safely after the June 12 storm.

Its main message: Clean and disinfect.

``Water that's washed over streets in an urban area contains pathogenic material that should be treated similar to sewage,'' said Lee Thomas, the department's environmental health bureau director.

``It's not something people need to be deathly afraid of. . . . They've just got to clean and disinfect,'' he said.

Thomas suggests using a solution of one cup of chlorine to five gallons of water to clean hard surfaces. Commercial cleaning products that say ``disinfectant'' will also work, he said.

``Be careful to clean things as well as they possibly can be cleaned,'' Thomas said. ``Some things may need to be discarded.''

Other tips from the departmentinclude:

* Basement odors are usually harmless. If ventilation does not remove them, sprinkle bleaching powder on the floor as a disinfectant.

* Air-dry family treasures such as books, photographs and paintings. If they don't dry within 48 hours, freeze them or keep them as cool as possible until air-drying is possible.

* Do not attempt to repair floors until they are fully dry. Dry wood floors as soon as possible to prevent them from shrinking or deforming. Buckled dry floors may be drawn back into place with nails. Humps may be removed by planing and sanding.

* Discard any food that comes into contact with flood waters, including any beverage bottles with twist caps. Dishes and cooking utensils should be thoroughly cleaned with the chlorine solution.

* Bring drinking water to a rolling boil for two minutes if it's unusually cloudy, has an unusual odor, or shows other signs of contamination.

* Wait until all floors, ceilings, walls and furnishings are dry and free of mold or mildew before trying to repair or salvage them.

* Remove drawers and clean all mud and dirt from wooden furniture. Dry furniture slowly and indoors to prevent it from warping from the sun.

* Washers, dryers and furnaces can usually be salvaged by having an electrician clean and test them.

* Mattresses and carpets should be discarded.

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