WCHD Reminds Residents of Health and Safety Precautions During and After a Flood

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- The Winnebago County Health Department has released the following press release concerning flooding in the area:

The Winnebago County Health Department reminds residents about personal health and safety precautions to be aware of in the days and weeks following the recent flooding.

Disease Prevention Precautions
• Do not drink water from private wells in the flooded areas. Contaminated flood waters may have impacted the private water wells in flooded areas, and the drinking water may not be safe to drink.
• Do not eat or drink anything exposed to flood water, or that may have gone bad due to lack of power to your refrigerator. Remember, “When in doubt, toss it out”.
• Minimize skin contact with flood water, especially cuts and sores. Keep them clean and covered.
• No one should be in flood water; do not allow children to play in flood water. Remember, even shallow rapidly flowing flood water may sweep you off of your feet.
• Keep contaminated objects, water and hands away from your mouth, eyes and nose.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and clean water, especially after bathroom use, before eating and immediately following contact with flood water or contaminated objects or surfaces.
• If you have a private septic system, be aware that you may have trouble flushing your toilet if your yard is flooded. Depending on your specific septic system, the hydraulic pressure from the water in your yard may cause the toilet to back up into your house!

Injury Prevention Precautions
• Do not walk or drive on flooded roads.
• Turn off main power switches if necessary. Air out and wipe dry all appliances and electrical outlets exposed to water before use.
• If you have fuel oil or gas systems, ensure tanks are secure and that all lines are free from breaks.
• Wear rubber boots, gloves and an N95 or HEPA respirator mask during removal and cleanup.
• Open windows if possible to ventilate and dry the area. Fans can be used to help with drying.

Mosquito Prevention
• The large amount of pooled water that remains after a flood provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
• Be sure doors and window screens are tight fitting and in good repair to keep mosquitoes out.
• Drain standing water in old tires, tin cans, birdbaths, clean clogged gutters and any other places where
mosquitoes might breed.

Personal Health Reminders
It is critical to remember good, basic hygiene practices during this time. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water that has been disinfected. If you receive a puncture wound or a wound contaminated with feces or saliva, have a doctor or the health department determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary based on individual records.

Contact your provider regarding any vaccinations needed. A tetanus booster is indicated if you were in direct contact with flood waters and you have not had a tetanus vaccination in the last 5 years.

General Cleaning Guidelines
Discard any contaminated objects that cannot be thoroughly washed or laundered. Wash contaminated surfaces and objects with warm, soapy water and disinfect with a bleach and water solution made of no more than 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water. For objects that would be damaged by bleach, use a home or laundry disinfectant. Make sure to read and follow label instructions. Do not use ammonia. Do not mix ammonia and bleach; the vapors are hazardous. Scrub and wash all objects in the affected area of your home, including clothes, exposed to flood waters. Use warm, not hot, tap water with soap.

Carpets and Rugs
Carpets and rugs that cannot be thoroughly dried and cleaned should be discarded and replaced. If the damaged area is small, you may be able to save the carpet by cleaning the area with a mild detergent. There also are professional home cleaning services that may be able to clean your carpets.

Floors, Drapes and Furniture
Floors and hard surfaces should be cleaned with a bleach and water solution made of no more than one cup of bleach per one gallon of water, or use a household disinfectant. A professional cleaner may be able to clean furniture and drapes.

Basement
Safety is the primary consideration; never enter a flooded basement unless the electrical power is turned off! Turn off gas at the meter also. Wait to pump until flood waters have receded below basement level. Pump out standing water and remove all debris. Allow debris to drain before disposal. Strain away all liquids from trash. After straining trash, wrap in newspaper and store in garbage cans with a tight lid until pick up.
Paneling and wallboard must be immediately cleaned and dried thoroughly. If the damage is severe, they should be removed and replaced.

Food and Water Safety
If you are on private water well in flooded areas, use only bottled water for drinking, cooking, tooth brushing and bathing until you are sure the water supply is safe. Discard food exposed to contaminated waters. If refrigerators or freezers have taken in water, discard food stored there. If no water entered these appliances, but power was lost long enough for foods to thaw, discard all partially thawed foods unless prepared immediately. Discard milk, cheeses and other foods prone to spoilage. Completely thawed meats and vegetables should be discarded without question. Discard all bulging or leaking canned food and any food stored in jars. Undented, intact cans can be cleaned with a bleach solution before use.

Residents can call the Winnebago County Health Department and speak with an Environmental Health Professional who will help answer flood related health questions. The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) Environmental Health telephone number is 815-720-4100. WCHD will be available during normal business hours (8 am to 5 pm Monday thru Friday). For special needs after hours and weekends you may call (815) 720-4000.

For more information regarding personal health and safety precautions during and after a flood, log onto the Winnebago County Health Department’s web site at wwww.wchd.org.


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