FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2018
Leah Eckstein, Adams County Public Health Officer
FLOODING HEALTH AND SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS
With the recent heavy rains and local flooding, Adams County Health and Human Services Department says it is very important to remember some basic safety precautions.
• When in doubt, if any water supply is cloudy, odorous, colored -- do not drink the water.
• Do not use water from a private well that has been or is flooded. If you are not certain about the safety of your water supply, you should have the well tested for bacteria. FREE well water test kits are available at Adams County Health and Human Services Department.
• Drink bottled water or water from a known, safe source.
• Listen for public announcements on the safety of the municipal water supply and follow their instructions.
• Do not swim in rivers, streams, creeks, or lakes in flooded areas.
• For infants, use ONLY pre-prepared canned baby formula that requires no added water, rather than powdered formulas prepared with treated water.
• Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. Throw out any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water.
• We recommend that canned foods that have come in contact with contaminated water be disposed of as a precautionary measure. However, undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the can labels, wash the cans, and then disinfect them with a solution consisting of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Re-label your cans, including the expiration date, with a marker.
• Food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop bottles), twist caps, flip tops, and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with flood water because they cannot be disinfected.
• If your refrigerator or freezer is without power for a period of time, all stored items should be carefully checked. Perishable food left at room temperature for more than 2 hours should be thrown out. Frozen food that has thawed should be thrown out if not eaten right away or kept refrigerated. When in doubt, throw it out
USING GENERATORS SAFELY
• Generators create high levels of deadly carbon monoxide gas in their exhaust. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled.
• Never use a generator in an enclosed area, like your home, garage, shed, camper, tent, boat, or cabin. Always run your generator outside, at least 20 feet from your home, camper, tent, etc., with exhaust hoses pointing away from people and structures.
• Install carbon monoxide detectors on each flood of your home. Use battery-powered detectors when you are away from home and using any gas-powered tools.
• Never plug a generator into a wall outlet – this can electrocute people.
• Keep the generator dry and dry your hands before using the generator.
• Use the correct extension cord, one that is heavy-duty, specifically designed for outdoor use and has a wattage rating that exceeds the total wattage of all devices plugged into it.
• Make sure electrical cords are in good condition, not frayed or crimped.
• Never store generator fuel in your home or near an ignition source.
• Before refueling a generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Always follow manufacturer instructions.
• Private septic systems that have been flooded are no longer reliable.
• Sewage may back flow from your septic or municipal system through floor drains, toilets, etc., Any affected areas, such as basements, must be cleaned and disinfected with a chlorine solution. Anything that cannot be cleaned should be thrown out.
• If you have raw sewage or sewage contaminated water in your basement, wear protective boots and gloves when entering the area. Ensure that no electrical hazards exist before entering flooded or water damaged areas. Contact your electrical utility immediately if you have questions or concerns regarding electrical hazards.
FUTURE CONCERNS - MOLD
• A major health concern after flooding or other water damage in homes is the growth of molds, bacteria and other biological contaminants. This is often associated with a musty mildew odor, as well as visible evidence of mold growth on walls, floors, carpeting, or other water-damaged items. Some persons may be allergic to or develop allergies or asthma-like symptoms from exposure to these contaminants.
• It is important that items in a home contributing to mold and bacterial growth be cleaned and dried as soon as possible. If this is not possible, items should be discarded.
• Seek assistance from professionals regarding heating and ventilation systems and ways to properly clean for mold contamination.
CORRECTING WATER DAMAGE AND CLEANING UP
• Wear protective boots and gloves when cleaning flood-damaged areas.
• Seal all leaks (ceilings, walls, foundations) and correct improper surface drainage. Reduce moisture generation in crawl spaces by ventilation.
• Wash surfaces and floors, first with a detergent, and then to disinfect them, with household chlorine bleach solution. Use 4-6 ounces of bleach per gallon of water. The bleach solution should stay in contact with the affected surface for several minutes before rinsing off with clean water. It may be necessary to repeat this process several times for items that were grossly contaminated.
• When using a bleach solution, open windows to provide good ventilation.
• Only individuals who are necessary for clean-up should be in the affected areas. Persons with respiratory health problems (e.g. asthma, emphysema) should NOT perform the clean-up. Children and pets should not be allowed in these areas.
For more detailed information on clean up and flood safety, refer to the Wisconsin Department of Health at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/flood or contact Adams County Health and Human Services at (608) 339-4505.
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