NEW Free Guides for Restoring Disaster Damaged Homes

Post by Claudette Hanks Reichel, Ed.D., LSU AgCenter Professor, Extension Housing Specialist and Director, LaHouse Resource Center  |  |  (225) 578-2378

healthy homes

With the spreading floods and other disasters, I want to alert EDENites to a set of new, free educational materials from HUD for dealing with damaged homes. These differ from many other materials I’ve seen in that the core thread is “health”, both during and after recovery.

When homes are damaged, disaster survivors face the daunting and dangerous task of clean-up and repairs – often with little or no professional help. All are eager to restore their homes and lives quickly, yet many are not aware of all the hazards that can be worsened by the process.

To alleviate that, various educational resources were recently developed through the U.S. Dept. of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes working with Cooperative Extension Service and others. They’re now available from web site’s Post Disaster Recovery and Resources link under Popular Topics.

The flagship “how-to” guide is Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy HomeIt’s a detailed, highly-illustrated reference to help homeowners, volunteers and other workers safely restore homes damaged by any type of natural disaster – from floods and storms, to wildfire and earthquakes – to end up with more than just a livable home, but to protect the future wellbeing of their families.

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Content includes the Top 10 Tips; personal protective gear; assessing structural and health hazards; work preparation; best practices for clean-out, gutting, decontamination and repair; ways to “restore for more than before” with resilient, energy-saving and healthy home improvements; and, other resources. Content conforms to new federal interagency recommendations for dealing with mold, lead, asbestos and radon after disasters.

This 72-page guidebook was extensively reviewed and refined by disaster survivors and stakeholders from across the nation, including Extension housing specialists; I was primary author. It’s available as a free online pdf file that can be printed in whole or part, as well as a free mobile app for both iPhone and Android devices (search Rebuild Healthy Homes in the app stores).

Other Disaster Resources

Don’t forget about the app!

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A Week of Traumas: Helping Others Cope

This has been a week to remember, and many of the memories will be sad ones. The 2013 Boston Marathon, held Monday, will be remembered for the two bomb blasts near the finish line. Three people died and nearly 200 were injured. On Wednesday evening, an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, devastated the town of 1,800. Unconfirmed reports indicate 5-15 fatalities with approximately 200 injuries and some people still missing.

Children have been directly affected in both incidents, while thousands of others are being indirectly affected through exposure to news stories on television, radio, and the Internet.  The effects of disaster on children who are directly exposed to danger and trauma are different from the effects on children who witnessed but did not directly experience traumatic events. Differences in age, experience, maturity level, and personality lead to varying reactions to the same incident.

Several resources are available to help you help your children cope with violence and disasters. Here are two: the National Institute of Mental Health offers guidance for parents, and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on common responses to traumatic events.   Also review EDEN’s Children and Disasters page for other resources.

 You can also find on the EDEN website mental health resources for Extension educators and other professionals who don’t normally talk about stress and behavioral health.

How are you helping others cope with the traumatic events of this week?

Family Preparedness Friday

Shoo Flu, Don’t Bother Me


Unless you’ve been out of touch with everyone around you lately, you’ve heard everyone talking about the flu.

It seems to be taking the country by storm and affecting the young and old alike. Some are reporting this season’s flu as pandemic in proportion, but that in fact is incorrect. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in the Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report that the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was above the epidemic threshold.

What’s the difference between pandemic and epidemic?

  • Pandemic – occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population
  • Epidemic – affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time

So, how can you protect your child?

  • Get yourself and your child vaccinated with the flu vaccineAnyone over the age of 6 months is recommended to get the flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout flu season.
  • Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. You can set a good example by doing this yourself.
  • Teach your children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils, and to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues. Covering up their coughs or sneezes using the elbow, arm or sleeve instead of the hand when a tissue is unavailable.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu. Symptoms of the flu include fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit, 37.8 degrees Celsius or greater), cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired. Some people may also vomit or have diarrhea.
  • Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have fever or do not have signs of fever, without using fever-reducing drugs.  Keeping children with a fever at home will reduce the number of people who may get infected.
  • Do not send children to school if they are sick. Any children who are determined to be sick while at school will be sent home.

For more information on preparing for flu, check out