If you have been affected by the storm and flooding from the September 9, 2023 storm please find some additional resources here:
Sanitation and Hygiene During a Flood
- It is critical for you to remember to practice basic hygiene during an emergency. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected
- Before preparing or eating food;
- After toilet use;
- After participating in flood cleanup activities; and
- After handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage
- Flood waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems, and agricultural and industrial byproducts.
- Although skin contact with flood water does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is some risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with flood water.
- If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to flood water, keep them as clean as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
- In addition, parents need to help children avoid waterborne illness. Do not allow children to play in flood water areas, wash children’s hands frequently (always before meals), and do not allow children to play with flood-water contaminated toys that have not been disinfected. You can disinfect toys using a solution of one cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water.
For more information visit:
- Cleaning and Sanitizing with Bleach After an Emergency
- Hand Hygiene After a Disaster
- After a Hurricane or Flood: Clean-up of Flood Water
After a Flood
Precautions When Returning to Your Home
- Electrical power and natural gas or propane tanks should be shut off to avoid fire, electrocution, or explosions.
- Try to return to your home during the daytime so that you do not have to use any lights.
- Use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles, gas lanterns, or torches.
- If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company or the police or fire departments or State Fire Marshal’s office, and do not turn on the lights or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
- Your electrical system may also be damaged. If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning but no visible fire, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the circuit breaker.
- Avoid any downed power lines, particularly those in water.
- Avoid wading in standing water, which also may contain glass or metal fragments.
- You should consult your utility company about using electrical equipment, including power generators.
- Be aware that it is against the law and a violation of electrical codes to connect generators to your home’s electrical circuits without the approved, automatic interrupt devices. If a generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard. In addition, the improper connection of a generator to your home’s electrical circuits may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area.
- All electrical equipment and appliances must be completely dry before turning them to services. It is advisable to have a certified electrician check these items if there is any question.
- Also, remember not to operate any gas-powered equipment indoors.
- See also https://www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm on mold cleanup.
- Walls, hard-surfaced floors, and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to five gallons of water. Be particularly careful to thoroughly disinfect surfaces that may come in contact with flood, such as counter tops, pantry shelves, refrigerators, etc.
- Areas where small children play should also be carefully cleaned. Wash all linens and clothing in hot water, or dry clean them. For items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, air dry them in the sun and then spray them thoroughly with a disinfectant. Steam clean all carpeting. If there has been a backflow of sewage into the house, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup
- Remove and discard contaminated household materials that cannot one disinfected, such as wall coverings, cloth, rugs, and drywall.
- See also https://www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm.
- Outbreaks of communicable diseases after floods are unusual. However, the rates of diseases that were present before a flood may increase because of decreased sanitation or overcrowding among displaced persons. Increases in infectious diseases that were not present in the community before the flood are not usually a problem.
- If you receive a puncture wound or a wound contaminated with flood water, feces, soil, or saliva, have a doctor or health department determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary based on individual records.
- Specific recommendations for vaccinations should be made on a case-by-case basis, or as determined by local and state health departments.
Swiftly Flowing Water
- If you enter swiftly flowing water, you risk drowning — regardless of your ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.
- Cars or other vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. Cars can be swept away or may break down in moving water.
- Use extreme caution when returning to your area after a flood. Be aware of potential chemical hazards you may encounter during flood recovery. Flood waters may have buried or moved hazardous chemical containers or solvents or other industrial chemicals from their normal storage places.
- If any propane tanks (whether 20-lb. tanks from a gas grill or household propane tanks) are discovered, do no attempt to move them yourself. These represent a very real danger of fire or explosion, and if any are found, police or fire departments or your State Fire Marshal’s office should be contacted immediately.
- Car batteries, even those in flood water, may still contain an electrical charge and should be removed with extreme caution by using insulated gloves. Avoid coming in contact with any acid that may have spilled from a damaged car battery.
Last modified: October 23, 2023