Now that the storm has passed and cleanup has begun, there are a lot of important things to remember for the health and safety of you and your family. Here is some information that can help:
If I’m on a private well and it flooded, what should I do?
Disinfecting Private Wells
Mold is caused by moisture and after the flooding brought about by Hurricane Matthew, mold is likely to be an ongoing issue. The Federal Emergency Management Agency along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Institutes of Health have developed guidance and information regarding mold management and cleanup after disasters. We encourage residents to refer to this guidance while cleaning up personal property in the wake of the recent flooding.
Information and guidance for homeowners and renters on how to clean up residential mold:
Homeowners and Renters Guide to Mold Clean-up After Disasters
EPA Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home
Information on Debris Removal
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What does is mean if my area has been placed under a “Boil Water Advisory?”
It means that residents are advised to either use bottled water or “boil” all tap water prior to use for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, or preparing baby food.
To boil water:
- Fill a pot with water
- Heat the water until bubbles come from the bottom of the pot to the top.
- Once the water reaches a rolling boil, let it boil for at least 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat source and let the water cool.
- Pour the water into a clean container with a cover for storage.
For information on the boil water advisory for Water Utility Management customers please click here: http://www.waterga.com/
Residents with private wells that have flooded are also advised to boil water for consumption. Your well should be considered “flooded” if your well casing has been submerged in water anytime throughout the past week.
Residents should continue to boil their water until they are notified by public health or their drinking water utility that the water system has been restored to full operation and the water is safe to drink.
General Information on food safety:
If you are wondering whether high water or power outages have ruined their food can follow a simple rule: When in doubt, throw it out. Once power is off, the refrigerator keeps food at safely cold temperatures for 4 hours, while food in a freezer remains safe for approximately 8 hours. If your power is off longer, your food is not safe to eat and should be discarded.
Do not consume anything that flood water may have touched. Flood water carries disease-causing organisms.
- Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Do not eat food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar containers that have been water damaged.
- Discard food and beverage containers with screw-caps, snap lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops, and home canned foods, if they have come in contact with flood water. These containers cannot be disinfected.
- Undamaged, commercially-prepared foods in all-metal cans or retort pouches can be saved if you remove the labels, thoroughly wash the cans, rinse them, and then disinfect them with a sanitizing solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of potable water. Finally, re-label containers that had the labels removed, including the expiration date, with a marker. Discard any canned foods that are dented as this can increase the risk of contracting botulism, a rare but very serious illness.
For more information, please go to www.fda.gov.
Smoke from Burning Debris Can Trigger Respiratory Issues
Smoke created from residents burning debris generally does not pose a health hazard but it may worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions such as respiratory allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The best protection for these individuals is to avoid areas where burning is taking place or stay indoors. If that is not possible, parents or caregivers of persons with respiratory conditions should monitor the individual carefully; ensure all medication is taken as directed; and, seek medical attention immediately if the individual shows any signs of distress.
- Make sure to keep windows and doors shut.
- Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
- Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.
- Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue. This is important not only for people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.
I own a restaurant. What do I need to do to get ready to reopen?
Restaurants and Grocers Reopening After Hurricanes and Flooding
Food Service Establishment Checklist
For more information, contact your county’s Environmental Health Office.