Mold, mildew and dry rot can create long-term problems for your home and your health.

Related video: How to use a moisture meter,

PERRYVILLE, Mo. – Before replacing drywall and floor coverings in your flooded home, make sure building materials have had enough time to dry out, cautions a University of Missouri Extension community emergency management specialist.

Failing to do so can leave your home infested with mold. “That will create health issues in the home for years to come,” said Frank Wideman.

“There are folks claiming that certain chemicals can be sprayed on building materials that will permanently prevent mold growth. But if the building materials are not dried down to 13 percent moisture, there is no known material that can make that claim,” he said.

There are materials that can kill existing mold, but nothing will keep the mold from returning to the wet materials, Wideman added. “If you want to avoid long-term problems with mold, mildew and dry rot, the building materials need to dry out before they are covered with new finishes. That means using a moisture meter to make sure the materials are dried to 13 percent moisture before drywall and other coverings are reinstalled.”

The damage and contamination left by floodwaters can create hazards to your health and safety. Wideman urges people to take some basic precautions during cleanup:

-Do not enter a building if it does not look structurally sound.

-Make sure gas and electricity are off.

-Be sure you’re up to date on your tetanus shot. Contact your local health department for more information.

-Wear sturdy shoes or boots and gloves when handling flood-contaminated materials. Wash your hands and face frequently, or use hand sanitizer.

MU Extension has a step-by-step guide to cleaning flood-damaged homes. The free publication covers electrical systems, repairing walls, cleaning furniture, flooring and floor coverings, bedding and kitchen items, and controlling mold and mildew.

The guide includes financial advice on such topics as filing insurance claims, avoiding fraud and hiring a contractor. There is also advice on coping with stress brought on by flooding.

Copies of “Resources for Your Flooded Home” are available at MU Extension offices, disaster recovery centers and online.

More online resources

-News, information and links from MU Extension’s Community Emergency Management Program.

-Missouri River flood information on Facebook: