Wolf Administration Urges Residents in Flooded Areas to Take Safety Precautions During Clean-Up

July 27, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – As multiple locations across the central portion of the state are dealing with the recovery and cleanup from heavy rains and flooding, the Wolf Administration is urging residents to take safety precautions to protect their health during cleanup activities.

“We are now in clean-up mode after the significant rainfall that occurred across much of the central portion of the state,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “We want to be sure that all Pennsylvanians involved in clean-up operations are staying healthy as they work to recover from the effects of the weather.”

“A dangerous flood can leave behind contaminated water, spoiled food, pests and dangerous animals in locations they normally would not be found,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Flooding presents a number of hazards that people do not typically deal with on a daily basis. As you return to flooded areas, it is essential that people take precautions and be observant for differences from what they are used to.”

Residents whose power has been out should dispose of items that can spoil in the refrigerator that may have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more. This includes foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leftovers and dairy products. In addition, most foods that came into contact with flood water should be disposed of.

It is also important to know whether your water is safe to drink and use for cooking or bathing, or if you have to use bottled water or boil water. All residents should have bottled water available in their emergency kit. All dishes, pans and utensils that came into contact with floodwater should be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water and then sanitized by boiling the items in clean, non-contaminated water.

The department also urges residents to avoid contact with floodwater as much as possible, as it can contain contaminants such as raw sewage, fuel and hazardous chemicals. In addition, there may be debris in the flood water. While cleaning, you should wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and socks and use bug spray with DEET to prevent mosquito bites, as mosquitoes are known to carry harmful diseases such as the West Nile Virus. All standing water should be drained from containers to prevent mosquitoes from breeding further.

If you are working and receive a puncture wound, it is important to wash it with soap and clean water, and then contact a doctor to see if a tetanus shot is needed.

As cleanup continues, you may deal with mold inside your home, especially if the home was not able to be cleaned out and dried within the first 24 to 48 hours after flooding. You should wear protective masks as possible and remove visible mold with either commercial products or a bleach solution. In extreme cases, it may be best to let a professional restoration company take care of the mold.

For more information on tetanus or vaccines available near you, visit www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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