Biohazard Contamination: 3 Things Not To Do
There are many types of environmental clean-up and restoration tasks that call for specialists at a home or a business. These include things like flood damage, fire damage, and mold. But one type of damage requires even more specialized professional attention, and that is biohazard contamination.
A biohazard is any hazard that is likely to contain biological matter that can cause serious harm through exposure. It can include things like blood, body tissue, dead animals (including insects), feces, urine, vomit, or other remains or excretions from humans, animals, or even plants. Biohazard material also includes other organisms that may be present, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Because many of the dangers that may be present in biohazards cannot even be seen (think: bacteria or viruses), the presence of any biohazard contamination is so serious that it is imperative to call a professional right away.
At SERVPRO, one of our areas of expertise is biohazard clean-up, such as when there has been an accident that involves injury or death, at a crime scene, a sewage overflow, or after a natural disaster. And while it is often difficult to think calmly and clearly when these events occur, it is critical that anyone on the scene observe the following rules about what not to do.
1: Do Not Attempt to Clean Up
Most of us have had to clean up small messes that could technically be called biohazards: dripped blood from a bloody nose or a cut, dog messes on the floor, a dead bird found under a tree. But even then, we know to be careful: wear a mask if necessary, use rubber or nitrile gloves or a plastic bag to pick up the mess, wrap it up in a plastic bag and seal it, discard our gloves, and wash up the area and our hands thoroughly with disinfectant and antibacterial cleansers.
But larger-scale biohazard problems present greater difficulties, because we are usually unaware of the extent of the contamination, particularly as many disasters can cause contamination to spread far beyond the immediate area where the disaster occurred. Consequently, unlike an everyday mess, leave major biohazard cleaning up to the professionals.
2: Do Not Touch or Handle Anything
If a disaster happens near you, there is a tendency to want to find out what happened; we see ample evidence of this with the “rubber-necking” that goes on when we pass by a traffic accident. But the human tendency to interfere is even greater when it involves a place where we live or work, or when it may involve something we use or own.
When something happens where you work or in your house, you may want to just pick up or check on your own stuff, such as a computer or a purse that you feel you need before leaving the area. Resist the temptation. Remember, nothing is so important that it is worth risking your health through contamination, or risking the health of others by spreading the contamination further.
This is especially important if the area is a crime or accident scene. Insurance, police, and fire investigators will need to see things as they are, not as they are after you have disturbed the area.
3: Do Not Enter the Area
In addition to refraining from clean-up or handling any items, your best bet is to completely steer clear of any area where an event has happened that leaves significant amounts of biohazard material. As noted above, you have no way of telling whether the material may contain bacteria or other contaminants that could expose you or others you come in contact with to serious health hazards.
Professionals who deal with biohazard material have been extensively trained to take special safety precautions, including donning full PPE. This may seem like overkill to someone unfamiliar with the dangers of biological waste, but to people who understand the risks, this is sensible and necessary. Only someone who is adequately protected, trained, and prepared should enter a biohazard area.
At SERVPRO of Coeur d'Alene, our job is to come into areas where disasters have occurred, and to fix seemingly unfixable damage and completely restore a site as if the damage never occurred. And while no one can really undo a disaster, we can help you move on. Whether you are dealing with a biohazard problem or any other problem that needs a serious clean-up solution, contact the professionals at SERVPRO today.