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Public Health Advisory: Floodwater Safety Measures

Public Date: 5/27/2011 12:00 AM
Contact: Tony Drautz, Administrator, Environmental Health Services
Phone Number: 248-858-1320

Oakland County, Michigan -- In response to recent flooding, the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) urges residents to follow these safety precautions to reduce possible illness and/or injury:

Avoid floodwater and mosquitoes – It is important that everyone, especially children and animals, stay out of flooded areas, including streets and standing water. Floodwaters may have contaminates, such as raw sewage.  Keep all pets and children out of flooded basements until the areas have been drained, washed, and disinfected. Follow all warnings about water on roadways. Do not drive vehicles through floodwaters. Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long pants, socks, and long-sleeved shirts and by using insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin.

Listen to and follow public announcements - local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing. If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning, or bathing.

Remove food that is not safe to eat – Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water. Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged. Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been left out for 2 hours or more.

Wash your hands - Use soap and warm water to wash your hands. If water isn't available, you can use alcohol-based products made for washing hands.

Clean up and prevent mold growth - Clean up and dry out the area within 24 to 48 hours. Open doors and windows or use fans, if available. To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water. To remove mold growth, wear rubber gloves, open windows and doors, and clean with a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Throw away soaked items, carpet and upholstered furniture that cannot be dried quickly.

Beware of electrical and fire hazards - Never touch a fallen power line. Call the power company to report fallen power lines. Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup and other activities. If electrical circuits and equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician. Do not burn candles near flammable items or leave the candle unattended. If possible, use flashlights or other battery-operated lights instead of candles.

For additional information, go to the Oakland County Health Division website at 

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