Regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil predicted on Ground Hog Day, Vermonters know we’ve got more winter in front of us and any boyscout worth his badges will tell you, be prepared.

The biggest culprits in Vermont in winter are Mold Damage, Water Damage, and Fire Damage… And they are all related (fire can lead to water damage and result in mold damage, if not handled properly). Let’s take a look at how you can be prepared.

Fire Damage
When it comes to Fire Damage, prevention is the cure. But accidents do happen and when they do, you should know what to do and what not to do. Soot is incredibly hard to clean. Much of the work should be left for the pros (even laundering), but there are a few simple things you can do to prevent further contamination: wear gloves and wash your hands, turn off your ventilation systems, and wash your house plants.

Mold Damage
Water damage can quickly lead to Mold. Mold exposure can cause all kinds of problems ranging from simple headaches and flu-like symptoms to more severe reactions, so a timely response can protect your health.The first thing you must do is stop the source of moisture (ie: turn off the water to your home and fix any plumbing leaks), then you can start to clean small areas (less than 10 sq. ft.). Use common household detergents or natural cleaners like grapefruit seed extract, vinegar, or tea tree oil (tea tree oil is a broad spectrum fungicide that kills all the mold families it contacts).

Here are a few important things you should not do when dealing with potential mold damage:

  • Ignore the problem – It won’t go away on its own.
  • Clean with Bleach – Cleaning with bleach does not kill mold spores and can actually feed further mold growth.
  • Dry a moldy area before cleaning – This can cause further spread of mold.

Water Damage
When it comes to water damage, your rapid response can have a great impact on preserving your home and belongings. Drying things up as quickly as possibly will reduce the potential for the development of mold. Here’s what you can do:

  • Turn off the water – This may seem obvious, but in an emergency, the obvious can be elusive.
  • Remove excess water – Mop up as much as you can. In cool weather open the windows; in hot weather turn on the A/C.
  • Prop up upholstery.
  • Remove area rugs to a dry place.
  • Protect valuables – move paintings and artwork to a safe, dry location.
  • Dry clothing as soon as possible – Fur and leather should be dried at room temperature.
  • Protect your furniture – Place plastic or aluminum foil under the legs of your sofa and chairs, open doors and cabinets to facilitate drying.

The list of things you should not do in the case if water damage of short, but essential in preventing electrical shock: do not use a household vacuum cleaner, do not operate electrical appliances, and do not touch any electrical outlets.

In any case, the best preparation Vermonters can have is a phone number: 802-878-9800. Call PuroClean.