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Flood Response: Post Flood Safety

The following provides information on safety regarding the following areas:

1) FLOOD WATER SAFETY

2) FLOODING/STORMS CAN CAUSE PROBLEMS WITH SEWAGE SYSTEMS

3) ALERT TO PRIVATE WELL OWNERS IN FLOODED AREAS

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1) The Florida Department of Health advises residents impacted by flooding to take the following precautions.

Moving Flood Water – During flooding, the greatest threat comes from moving water. The deeper the moving water, the greater the threat. People should avoid driving in moving water, regardless of the size of the vehicle.

Pooling Flood Water – Heavy rain causes flood waters to rise and pool on streets and throughout neighborhoods. In these situations, be aware of the following:

  • Road surfaces become disguised and drivers can unknowingly steer into a deep body of water, such as a canal or pond.
  • Electricity from streetlights and power poles may be present in standing water, causing a deadly shock to anyone coming in contact   with it.
  • Children playing in contaminated standing water can become sick or be bitten by snakes or floating insects.
  • People coming into contact with floodwaters should thoroughly wash and rinse any exposed body parts with soap and disinfected water.

Contaminated Water Supply – Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. Water in a flood-affected area may not be safe to drink. Listen to local announcements on safety of the water supply. If the public water system lost pressure, a boil water notice will likely be issued for your area. People in these areas should take precautions to avoid consuming contaminated water. If your well is in a flooded area, your water may contain disease-causing bacteria and may not be safe to drink. DOH recommends one of the following:

  • Boil water for at least 1 minute before using it for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, or washing dishes.
  • Disinfect water by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon – this would form a puddle about the size of a dime) of unscented household bleach per gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure. Use a container that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used for drinking. This will prevent contamination.
  • Use only bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.

After the flooding subsides:

  • If available, have your water tested through your county health department or by a laboratory certified by the state to perform a drinking water analysis.

Contaminated Food

  •  Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood waters.
  •  Discard any food without a waterproof container if there is any chance it has come into contact with floodwaters.
  • Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels thoroughly, wash the cans, and then disinfect them with a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of unscented household bleach per gallon of water for clean surfaces.
  • Re-label your cans, including the expiration date, with a marker. Food containers with screw-caps, snap lids and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come in contact with floodwaters, because they cannot be disinfected.

Sewage Backed Up in the Home

  •  If a sewage backup has happened in your home, stay out of affected areas and keep children away. If your entire home has been soaked, abandon the home until all affected areas, including but not limited to carpets, rugs, sheetrock, drywall and baseboards, have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
  • If sewage has overflowed in open areas or streets, avoid these areas and do not let children play in these areas.
  •  If you are having problems in areas served by public sewer systems, please contact your utility company to make sure they are aware of problems in your area.

Contaminated Items

  • Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. There is no way to safely clean them if they have come in contact with contaminated floodwaters.
  • Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with soap and hot water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1/4 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.

Hygiene- Basic hygiene is very important during flooding. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected and cooled. Hands should be washed before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling garbage, after tending to someone who is sick or injured, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after helping in flood cleanup activities, and after handling items contaminated with flood water or sewage.

For more information, please contact the Florida Department of Health in your local county.

 

2) FLOODING/STORMS CAN CAUSE PROBLEMS WITH SEWAGE SYSTEMS

Following a storm, you may experience problems with the operation of your sewage system. If you have a septic system that runs by a dosing pump, it will not work without electricity. You should stop using water in your home as much as possible until the electricity comes back on. Without the pump working, the septic tank will fill and may cause backup of sewage in your home.

General precautions:

  • Do not let children play in flood waters, as these waters may be contaminated by sewage.
  • If you live in a low-lying or flood-prone area, the ground in your area may be soaked from heavy rainfalls or flooding from the hurricane. You should use household water as little as possible to prevent backup of sewage into your home

What should I do if sewage backs up into my home?

  • If a sewage backup has happened in your home, stay out of affected areas and keep children away. If your entire home has been soaked, abandon the home until all affected areas, including but not limited to carpets, rugs, sheetrock, drywall and baseboards, have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
  • If sewage has overflowed in open areas or streets avoid these areas and do not let children play in these areas.
  • If you are having problems in areas served by public sewer systems, please contact your utility company to make sure they are aware of problems in your area.

For more information, please contact your local health department.

 

ALERT TO PRIVATE WELL OWNERS IN FLOODED AREAS

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) advises private well owners affected by flood waters to take precautions against disease-causing organisms that may make water unsafe to drink.

DOH recommends one of the following:

  • Boil water before use, holding it at rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for drinking, brushing teeth, washing food, cooking, or washing dishes.
  • Disinfect water by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 tsp – this would form a puddle about the size of a dime) of plain, unscented household bleach (4 to 6 percent active ingredient) per gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure once. Use a container that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used for drinking. This will prevent contamination.
  • Use bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.

After the flooding subsides:

For more information, please contact the local health Department.

Permanent link to this article: https://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2014/05/02/flood-response-post-flood-safety/