Health Dept. offers flood clean up tips


The Fulton County Health Department is urging residents in and around flooded areas to take precautions to help prevent disease and stay safe.

Flood water can contaminate food, water, and other items it comes in contact with. To avoid illness it is important for residents and businesses that were impacted by flooding to make sure their water is safe to drink, to know if food needs to be thrown out and to properly clean all items touched by flood waters.

Flood waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems, and agricultural and industrial byproducts. Although skin contact with flood water does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is some risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with flood water.

The following information can help protect the community from illness and injury:

• Avoid skin contact with flood and sewer water, especially cuts and sores. Keep them clean and covered.

• Do not allow children to play in areas contaminated by flood water and sewage backup.

• Do not eat or drink anything exposed to flood and sewer water.

• Keep contaminated objects, water and hands away from mucous membranes (mouth, eyes and nose).

• Wash hands frequently, especially after bathroom use, before eating and immediately following contact with flood and sewer water or contaminated objects or surfaces.

Food and Water Safety

Use only bottled or disinfected water for drinking, cooking, dish washing, tooth brushing and bathing until you are sure the water supply is safe. People with private water wells who think their well may have been impacted by flooding should contact the Fulton County Health Department for information on disinfecting and testing water from a well, holding tank or pond treatment system. Additional information is available at www.odh.ohio.gov/CDCsyndication/Flooding/floods.aspx .

Discard food exposed to contaminated waters. If refrigerators or freezers have been contaminated with water, discard its contents. If no water entered these appliances, but power was lost long enough for foods to thaw, discard all partially thawed foods unless prepared immediately.

Throw out milk, cheeses and other foods prone to spoilage. Completely thawed meats and vegetables should be discarded without question. Discard all bulging or leaking canned food and any food stored in jars. Intact cans without dents can be cleaned with a bleach solution before use.

The following cleaning guidelines may help prevent the transmission of disease and reduce property loss:

• Discard any contaminated objects that cannot be thoroughly washed or laundered.

• Thoroughly dry carpet, wood, dry wall, insulation, mattresses and anything else touched by flood water to prevent mold.

• Wash contaminated surfaces and objects with warm, soapy water and then disinfect them with a bleach and water solution made 1 cup of bleach to five gallons of water. For objects that would be damaged by bleach, use a home or laundry disinfectant.

• Make sure to read and follow label instructions. Do not use ammonia. Ammonia vapors mixed with bleach vapors create a toxic gas that could be deadly.

Other information on flood safety and cleanup guidelines can be found at www.fultoncountyhealthdept.com or www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/index.asp