To ensure your safety and the durability of your equipment, carry out the required cleaning work in accordance with the advice and recommendations for use.
Cleaning up your house
If there has been an accumulation or infiltration of water in your home as a result of a broken pipe, flood or sewer backup, disinfect and dry all objects and surfaces. Discard all damaged porous materials. You will prevent mould growth and many other problems that can affect your health.
Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning
During your work, never use fuel-burning devices (natural gas, gasoline, propane, etc.) such as pumps and generators inside buildings or near doors or windows. Never obstruct the air inlets and outlets of your devices.
Use a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector to regularly check the quality of the ambient air or wear a personal detector with an audible and visual alarm during hazardous work.
Immediately go outside, dial 911, and leave the door open when leaving the premises if a carbon monoxide alarm goes off in the building or you or a loved one has symptoms such as:
Avoiding the risk of infection
Before you start your big clean up, make sure you are protected against tetanus.
Protect yourself from contaminated water, germs, particles on the ground or chemical residues:
- Wear rubber work gloves to prevent skin contact with dirty water or other contaminated material, do not touch clean surfaces with dirty gloves, and wash your hands after wearing gloves.
- Cover your wounds with a waterproof, sterile bandage.
- Wear safety glasses or a face shield if there is a risk of dirty water splashing in your eyes.
- Wear a disposable N95 respirator (mask) if there is mould, dust or other particles in the air. A mask should cover the nose and mouth and should be changed after a few hours of use or more frequently if it becomes wet or dirty. Depending on the scope of the work, a full face mask with an N100 or P100 particulate filter may be required. Make sure the mask is the correct size and fits snugly.
- Avoid eating, changing your contact lenses, or smoking in areas where you are cleaning.
- Carry your clothes worn while cleaning in a closed bag or container, and wash them separately from other clothes in the house.
- Do not attempt to move unlabelled or broken chemical containers and damaged gas cylinders without seeking advice from your municipal fire department.
Do not pull, push or lift loads that are too heavy or unwieldy, as this can lead to muscle injuries in the back, shoulders or knees. In addition:
- Adopt proper working methods and postures—avoid overextension or incorrect handling.
- Reduce the weight of the load to be transported.
- Make sure that the loads to be handled are compact and can be held close to the body.
- Reduce the distances to be travelled when carrying a load.
- Use appropriate lifting or transportation equipment.
Clean any wounds, even minor ones, immediately with clean water and soap.
See a doctor immediately in the event of a deep or dirty wound.
Cleaning up your yard
Never approach an electric wire that has fallen to the ground. Call 911 immediately. When a wire touches the ground, the risk that it is a live wire and that the surrounding ground is charged is high.
If you see a wire or cable from a telecommunications service on the ground, contact the provider.
Carefully remove all debris from your yard.
Find out from your municipality about the necessary permits before starting backfilling or clearing or stabilizing an embankment on a shore.
If you need to get rid of a dead animal
Pick it up using a shovel or disposable gloves, then place it in a sturdy plastic bag. Close the bag tightly before placing it in a second bag. Seal this bag tightly too. Put it in the trash can you usually use for the waste collection service.
Then wash off whatever you used to handle the animal and wash your hands with warm water and soap.
Contact your municipality if you find an animal’s body that is too large to put in a plastic bag.
Managing your residual materials
Dispose of your residual materials appropriately, depending on their type.
Non-hazardous residual materials
Dispose of your unrecoverable food as usual; compost it if you can. Recoverable demolition debris (wood, metal, aggregates) must be sent to a sorting centre or an ecocentre. Electronic devices that are not reusable must be brought to a drop-off depot.
Contact your municipality to find out how to dispose of:
- Demolition debris that has been in contact with water and is not recoverable (porous materials, carpets, insulation, gypsum board, etc.)
- Debris found laying around in your yard, recyclable or not
- Furniture and household items that have been in contact with water and cannot be recovered (mattresses, clothes, furniture, plush toys, cutting boards, etc.)
- Household appliances that are not reusable (stove, freezer, washer, dryer, refrigerator, etc.)
Consult the website of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques for additional information.
Hazardous residual materials
Medications that have expired or have come in contact with water should be returned to a pharmacy.
Hazardous household waste (e.g. gasoline, fuel oil, household pesticides, aerosols, solvents) can be collected at the ecocentre in your region. Hazardous household waste (e.g. batteries, mercury lamps, paints and their containers, oils, electronic products) can often be sent to drop-off depots.
For more information, consult the RECYC-QUÉBEC information sheet entitled Hazardous household waste (in French only).
Special care should be taken with swimming pool products, especially if these materials have been in contact with water. These products can react and emit unpleasant or even toxic vapours.
Report any event to your municipality’s fire department.
Report any spill or accidental emission into the air to Urgence-Environnement at 1-866-694-5454.
If the sandbags you used to protect your home are contaminated, for example if they give off an odour, return them to your municipality.
If they are not contaminated, you can:
- Keep them intact by storing them for future use
- Return them whole to your municipality, which will dispose of them properly
For bags in poor condition that cannot be reused but are not contaminated, the municipalities concerned can set up ad hoc collections or specific and temporary drop-off depots with a view to sending them to processing or enhancement facilities. Municipalities can also inform citizens that these bags can be dropped off at municipal curbside recycling.
You can remove the sand from the bags and keep it for your personal use or contact your municipality to find out how to dispose of it.
In all circumstances, the sand conserved should not be used to design children’s games, such as sandboxes, since it must be 100% free of organic, toxic or dangerous materials.
Protecting workers and volunteers
As a worker, check with the authorities concerned to see if you are covered by the Commission des normes, de l'énergie, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST).
As a volunteer, ask the authority coordinating the tasks to provide you with the required personal protective equipment. Also check if you are covered by the CNESST (French only) during the volunteer work you perform.
Last update: July 6, 2021