After the Flood - Health Concerns
Every year, more than 200,000 Americans are driven from their homes by floods. Returning home after floodwaters recede can be a devastating and potentially hazardous venture. Follow these sensible suggestions when returning home after the flood.
Returning Home after the flood
When returning to a home that has been flooded, use extreme caution!
- Wear study shoes and use flashlights when examining the building.
- Watch out for animals, bugs and snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
- Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas.
- Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
- Report broken utility lines to the property authorities.
- If the pilot light went out on your natural gas furnace, hot water heater, or stove have it re-lit by a professional.
Drinking Water Safety
- If your water is provided by a community water system that lost pressure during or following the flood, do not drink the water until it is determined to be safe.
- If your water is provided by a well and the well head was covered by floodwaters, you should have the water tested by public health officials and determined to be safe. If treatment is necessary, follow public health officials' directions.
- If drinking water is not available, locate other sources of safe liquids such as juices, soft drinks or other beverages not exposed to flood waters. Other sources include water stored in clean covered containers.
When electricity is lost for several hours
- Frozen and refrigerated food may not be safe to eat.
- Do not refreeze thawed food.
- Throw away all food that has been under water, except canned foods.
- Cans of food should be washed and sanitized before opening.
- All food that cannot be saved should be double-bagged for normal disposal or buried at least two feet deep.
- Disinfect Be particularly careful to disinfect all surfaces that come into contact with food like countertops, pantry shelves, etc.
- Cleanup If there has been a back-flow of sewage into the home, wear rubber boots and gloves during cleanup. Remove and discard items that cannot be disinfected.
- Empty water out of birdbaths, flower pots, tires and other containers to reduce mosquito infestation during warm weather.
- Pump out flooded basements gradually to avoid structural damage.
- Stay out of buildings if floodwaters remain around the building
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