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Bio-hazard Incidents during Disasters

Cost and damages to property due to bio-hazards can run into the thousands of dollars to clean up. During a disaster blood borne pathogens or sewage backing up could become a problem. During floods or catastrophic explosions bio-hazards could become a real threat to you and your family.

Above all before touching anything put on non latex gloves if you absolutely have to remove any object that you think may be contaminated. If at all possible, leave it for your local hazmat (Hazardous materials) team to handle. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of bio-hazard damage under your homeowner’s policy but you should check with them before you hire a company to clean up. Bio-hazard damages happen not only to property but can happen to people.

  • Blood-borne pathogens
  • Crime scene residue
  • Methamphetamine labs
  • Sewage back ups
  • White powder incidents

You could be at risk of being exposed to blood borne pathogens such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration has guidelines and standards that apply to blood borne pathogens and the clean up of the contaminated area. Bodily fluids, tissue or other potentially pathogenic substances would need to be cleaned, disinfected and deodorized by a professional.

According to the CDC, hepatitis B virus can survive for at least one week in dried blood. The virus may survive on environmental surfaces, contaminated needles and/or instruments.
Crime scenes may contain evidence gathering chemicals, tear gas or pepper spray residue that will need to be removed. The bio-hazard damages are usually not thought about in this situation.

Methamphetamine labs that produce illegal drugs are volatile. They are also high in biohazard damages. If you are buying a house there is currently no way to know if it was used as a drug laboratory.  Contamination can seep into absorbent materials such as carpets and furniture and also remain in sinks, drains and ventilation systems. If you are exposed to the cooking process it can be harmful and cause health problems that include:

  • Respiratory problems Biohazard Alert
  • Skin and eye irritation 
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and dizziness

Sewage back up can occur during severe rainstorms and floods. Sewage contains bacteria, viruses and may cause gastrointestinal distress, skin rashes and infections. 
White powder incidents or anthrax hoaxes have cost law enforcement time and money.

First responders, such as firefighters and local and state police have to respond as if it is real incident that threatens public safety.  Hazmat teams are called out and the location where the incident occurs is treated as a crime scent. This means that the location and the people in it must be decontaminated before being released.

Before a professional arrives to clean the infected area you should stay out of the affected area, call 911 if the emergency is life threatening, treat all bodily fluids as if they are contaminated and turn off any HVAC system if you have sewage or bio-hazard odors.

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