In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the historic flooding in Houston, countless homeowners whose dwellings took on water have a new concern to look out for: MOLD.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says mold can begin growing on damp surfaces within 24 to 48 hours. If your home took on water, you should remove all wet items, and use fans and dehumidifiers to dry out any wet areas as quickly as possible, according to FEMA.
Should mold develop in your home, you may begin experiencing allergy-like symptoms.
“Allergic reactions to mold are fairly common and symptoms can range from sneezing to coughing and red or itchy eyes. Those with asthma or other upper respiratory issues can also see an increase in their symptoms, or it could even cause an asthma attack,” said Kiran Nair, D.O., a pulmonologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.
Dr. Nair says children and pregnant women are also at higher risk for health issues stemming from exposure to mold. FEMA recommends discarding any porous items that develop mold, such as upholstered furniture, bedding, clothing and rugs, and disinfecting non-porous hard surfaces such as metal, glass, solid wood and plastic with a 10 percent bleach solution. That means nine parts water and one part bleach.
“Cleaning the moldy area may also irritate your respiratory system, so make sure you wear gloves, mask and protect your eyes when cleaning any signs of mold,” Dr. Nair said. “It’s also good to try and keep the area as well ventilated as possible.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seeing your primary care physician if you are having symptoms of a mold allergy. The primary care physician can then offer a referral to an allergist, infectious disease physician or pulmonologist.
If you begin to feel sick and need medical attention, Memorial Hermann Urgent Care locations welcome walk-in patients. All Urgent Care locations are open from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Online check-in is available to get in line before you arrive.
If you’re feeling sick and not sure what to do, call the free Nurse Health Line: 713.338.7979 or toll-free 855.577.7979. Registered Nurses will help you decide where to go for care.
For life-threatening emergencies, call 911.