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If a person must come into contact with floodwater, they should take the following general precautions:
If the area over a well is under floodwater, the recommended procedure for disinfecting is:
Note: This procedure results in a high level of chlorine, so the water should not be used for drinking, cooking, or watering livestock until the chlorine odor and taste is no longer apparent. Use of bottled water or boiled water is suggested if citizens are unsure of the purity of their water supply.
Flooded buildings should be pumped out and disinfected. After the water is pumped out, solid wastes should be disposed of in a functioning sewage disposal system or sealed in plastic bags for ultimate disposal in an approved landfill. All flooded floor and wall surfaces should be washed with a solution of two capfuls of household bleach for each gallon of water. Any household articles affected by floodwaters should be washed with the same solution. Carpeting, mattresses, and upholstered furniture should be disposed of or cleaned and disinfected by a professional cleaner.
Yards that have been contaminated by flooded sewage systems should be disinfected by a liberal application of lime. Children and animals should be kept away from limed areas until the lime is no longer visible.
Heavy rain can mean a disruption in electrical and gas service and the availability of potable water. When power goes off in the refrigerator, you can normally expect food inside to stay safely cold for 4 to 6 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Here are some additional guidelines:
Generally, do not eat any food that has come in contact with floodwater, especially root and garden vegetables. Citrus fruits should be washed well, sanitized in a chlorine solution, and peeled before eating. Apples and other fruits should also be cooked before eating. Carefully examine all canned and bottled goods; these are usually not affected but should be washed thoroughly with approved drinking water and a mild disinfecting solution and rinsed prior to opening and use. Canned or powdered milk may be substituted for fresh milk.
Hazards of floods continue to exist after the water recedes as workers, volunteers, and homeowners begin to clean up. There are many hazards besides drowning that may cause serious injury. Some basic cautions should be taken as follows.
When entering flooded areas, be aware of electrical hazards. Don't touch any electrical equipment unless you are absolutely sure it is properly grounded or that the power is off. Also, don't operate any electrical equipment that is not specifically designed for use in wet locations. The water in which you are standing will provide a path for the electricity if you touch any equipment that is not properly grounded. That path will go through you, too.
Never handle a downed power line. If clearing or other work must be performed near a downed power line, contact the utility company. Extreme caution is necessary when moving ladders and other equipment near overhead power lines to avoid inadvertent contact.
Additional questions about proper disinfection procedures and other potential health problems related to the storm can be directed to the local board of health in each city or town.