Spring Storm Recovery: Mold Prevention and Safety


Following the recent flooding that has affected communities across California, 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.

Mold can be found in places that have experienced extreme amounts of water, hiding in walls, carpets, furniture, or other places that experienced severe flooding.

Although mold is common, it is treatable and preventable by following the steps below.

How to tell if your home has a mold problem?

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

To avoid having mold in your home make sure you are getting air flow into your house after water exposure. Make sure your sprinklers are not pointing directly at your house and that you repair any and all damages to your roof.

Flood Clean Up and Mold Prevention

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

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

“Drying your home and removing water-damaged items is the most important step for preventing mold. Mold growth can be assumed if items have been in contact with flood water for more than 48 hours. Mold growth on hard surfaces with a bleach solution but the key is getting those water damaged items out of the home and drying the home as soon as possible. Contact your local environmental health department for guidance on mold remediation” says Jason Wilken, Epidemiology Field Officer at the California Department of Public Health.

Removing debris from a water damaged house

Keeping items in a flooded Area

The recent flooding has caused devastation all over our state, knowing what items are safe to keep 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.

Recent Flooding in California

After a flood, drying your home and removing water-damaged items is the most important step for preventing mold. Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, boots, and goggles to dispose of moldy belongings and remove mold growth on hard surfaces like floors, countertops, sinks, and dishes, with a mix of 1 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water.

How to disinfect hard surfaces touched by flood water:

  1. Wash with soap and warm, clean water
  2. Rinse with clean water
  3. Wipe surfaces with bleach water
  4. Don’t rinse, let the surface air dry
  5. Never mix ammonia and bleach

For more information, contact your local environmental health department for guidance on mold remediation.

Mold Exposure Symptoms

Exposure to mold can cause flu like symptoms, be aware if your family has:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Itchy throat or eyes
  • Asthma attacks in those who already have asthma

Repeated or long-term exposure to mold can increase a person’s sensitivity and allergy.


For more information please visit:

Cal OES: Floodwater Safety Tips

CDPH: Mold or Moisture in My Home: What Do I Do?

CDPH: Mold and Dampness

CDC: Reentering Your Flooded Home

FEMA: Cleaning Up Mold Safely Video