Danger, Will Robinson!

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A select few of you will immediately know that unobscured reference to a favorite television show of the mid-to-late 1960’s called Lost In Space.  The show’s helpful robot was programmed to protect the young man of the family, Will Robinson, from the dangers around in their space travel.

But what if the only space you get lost in is that trashed-out vacant property?  Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s plenty of things to watch out for – plenty of danger – to you and anyone named Will in your party.  Continuing with the thread we started last week, let’s talk about a few more ways you need to be alert and careful when looking at these kinds of properties.

This warning does not generally apply to properties that are inhabited, as any dangers there would likely already be identified and, if not fixed, at least marked somehow.  So, we’ll focus on vacant properties that you may come across in your travels through space.

One of the most prevalent dangers of a vacant property is mold and toxins.  It’s remarkable how fast a property degrades when people leave, and many times this is because when humans move out, critters move in.  Most critters don’t abide by proper bathroom etiquette, so their biological output goes just about anywhere, and frequently everywhere.

When these bad boys and girls move it, they generally don’t knock either – they love chewing through soffit, fascia, or even roofing to get in.  Of course, that kind of damage also lets something else come in quite freely – the rain.  And soaking wet drywall, studs, carpeting, and other building materials are ideal breeding grounds for black mold.

Mold is everywhere, but when it’s allowed to proliferate and grow, it’s starts showing up as dark spots on surfaces.  I once toured a property where one wall by a leaking roof looked like it was wallpapered with black fur.  Yes, that is quite frightening.

You can protect yourself to a large degree from these things by wearing a respirator.  If you get into a property where basic respirator technology is insufficient – get out.  In particular, and this is really important, if you find yourself in a Meth lab property, run – don’t walk – to the nearest exit.  The only remediation for a Meth property is complete demolition and soil-incineration.

In many cases, a particulate nuisance mask like a 3M 8200, cat N95 is sufficient for dusts and light mold if you’re going to be in a property for under 30 minutes.  If the airborne toxins are strong or really offensive, you may want to step up to a cartridge-style unit like the 3M 6191 cat P100 that has two screw-on discs on either side of your face.

Any of these half-face style masks only protect you against inhaled irritants; they will not stop gasses or vapors, and if you encounter a property that would require something serious, you should reconsider even looking at that property.  There are plenty more in better condition, and the costs of repair of such properties may be prohibitive.

The bottom line is simply this: use common sense when walking through vacant properties, and be vigilant for lurking dangers like mold, animal feces, structural problems or that cunning Dr. Smith.



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