Post-Flood Health Advisory
Albany, January 25 -- State Health Commissioner Barbara A. DeBuono, M.D., said today that the State and county Health Departments are available to offer advice to home and business owners faced with cleanup after theJanuary thaw floodings, which have plagued many communities throughout theState.
"The physical damage brought by flood waters is accompanied by very real health and safety concerns, which home and business owners should be aware of in their efforts to restore their property," Dr. DeBuono said. "For instance, special care needs to be taken in regard to drinking water and food. The best policy is to assume all drinking water sources are unsafe for use until approved by your local health department. If your home has suffered a power loss, frozen food including meat and other easily perishable items that have thawed should be discarded."
The Commissioner offered this advice regarding the following areas of health and safety:
Milk & Food
- Raw foods exposed to flood waters should be avoided because of possible contamination. If raw foods must be used, clean thoroughly and rinse with chlorinated water (2 teaspoons of 5.25 percent household liquid bleach solution per gallon of water).
- Use only pasteurized milk. When the safety of milk is in doubt, or when only raw milk is available, bring the milk to a boil and cool in a clean container. If boiling is not possible, canned or powdered milk mixed with safe water can be used.
- Destroy the contents of crown-capped bottles and foods in glass jars. Destroy canned foods where swelling, rusting or serious denting is visible or when contents cannot be identified.
- Cook all foods thoroughly. Frozen foods that have been thawed should be discarded if not consumed immediately or kept refrigerated at 45 degrees F. or lower.
- Utensils can be used if clean and not exposed to flood waters.
- Cellars: If possible, wait for ground waters to drop below floor level. Otherwise, drain or pump water from flooded cellars, being careful to avoid the collapse of walls caused by the pressure of the water-saturated ground around the basement. Wash down the walls, floors and other areas exposed to flood waters; keep windows and doors open for ventilation. Disinfect the washed areas by applying a solution of bleach with a broom. The solution is prepared by adding 4 tablespoons of bleach to 5 gallons of water. Allow the solution to remain in contact for approximately 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water as soon as possible to minimize staining. Any commercially available disinfectant can be used.
- Floor Coverings: Flush rugs and carpets with hose and squeegee, then wash with lukewarm water containing a detergent. Rinse and dry in sun. CAUTION: Wool fibers will shrink more than synthetic materials.
- Furniture: Clean and then wash metal and leather surfaces with mild soap and water and wipe dry immediately. Some upholstery may be washed on the surface with soap and water and wiped dry. Expose to open air and sunshine.
- Entering Damaged Buildings: Proceed with caution. If you have any doubts about the safety of a building, seek professional advice or assistance before going in. Check for visible signs of buckled walls, loose bricks, cracks or shifting of foundation.
- Gas or Electrical Services: Follow instructions of utility company or appliance service dealer concerning restoration of service. Be sure electrical appliances are dry and in good condition before using. Do not turn on or try to fix gas-fired units. Avoid contact with electrical fixtures when standing in water or on a damp floor.
- Keep poisons, other chemicals and flammable substances in a place not accessible to children. o Rubber gloves should be worn while scrubbing damaged interiors with bleach solutions.
- Don't neglect supposedly minor cuts, scratches or other injuries or sickness experienced during the emergency.
1/25/96-9OPA Contact: Claudia Hutton, Director, Public Affairs (518) 474-7354
New York State Department of Health Posted: February 5, 1996