INDIANAPOLIS - State health officials caution Hoosiers to take steps to protect their health and safety as they return to their homes in flood-affected areas of the state. Children should never play in floodwaters. People must not drink floodwater, which could be contaminated with raw sewage, and should avoid getting floodwater in eyes, nose, and mouth.
"People in flooded areas should thoroughly wash any cuts, scrapes, scratches, or other skin injuries with soap and water and apply an antiseptic and bandages to make sure they do not become infected," says State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. "Injuries exposed to floodwater and debris should be closely watched for signs of infection like redness, swelling, pain, and drainage. See your health care provider right away if those symptoms develop."
People cleaning up their homes after flooding should wear gloves, if possible, to avoid being exposed to contaminants in the floodwater and to prevent injury. State health officials advise anyone who sustains an injury from materials affected by floodwaters seek immediate medical attention.
For household cleaning after floodwater contamination, disinfect all surfaces. A bleach solution of ¼-cup chlorine bleach to one gallon of water works well. Some tips for safely cleaning up a home or business after the floodwaters recede include:
- Turn off the electricity.
- Clean and dry wet light fixtures before turning the electricity back on.
- Items that cannot be salvaged after a flood and must be thrown away include wet ceiling tiles, paper products, baseboards, gypsum board (also known as dry wall), and insulation.
- Carpets may be saved by wet vacuuming, shampooing, and making certain the carpet is completely dry.
- Mattresses or other large items soaked with floodwater will probably have to be discarded. Some mattresses can be salvaged after disinfecting and air-drying.
- Wipe wood and metal studs with a bleach solution and allow to air dry.
- If possible, open windows and doors during the clean-up process and leave them open for at least 24 hours.
For additional tips on sanitizing your home after a flood, visit the State Department of Health Web site at: www.statehealth.IN.govand click on the flood sanitation tips link at the top of the page.
As a result of flooded conditions in homes, large quantities of food may be submerged in floodwater or sewer backflow. As a general rule, food should not be salvaged unless it is in a container that protects it and is one which can be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water and sterilized with boiling water or chlorine. Since paper, cardboard, wood, and most plastic food containers are not waterproof, foods in such containers which have been under floodwater should be destroyed.
The following types of foods, if contaminated with floodwater, should destroyed:
· Fresh fruits and vegetables;
· Meats, poultry, and fish;
· Lard, butter, and oleo;
· Sugar, coffee, tea, and eggs; and
· Cereals, flour, corn meal, etc.
State health officials recommend people in flooded areas make sure they are up-to-date on their tetanus immunizations. Routine tetanus boosters are recommended every 10 years. For people who receive more serious wounds, a tetanus booster is appropriate if they have not received one within the last 5 years. Tetanus vaccines are available from your primary health care provider or your local health department. A complete listing of local health departments is available on the State Department of Health Web site at: www.statehealth.in.govby clicking on "Indiana Local Health Departments."
Tetanus is an acute, often fatal, disease caused by an exotoxin. Symptoms of tetanus include generalized rigidity and painful spasms of skeletal muscles. The muscle stiffness usually involves the jaw (lockjaw) and neck and then becomes more generalized. Any type of wound, major or minor, could be an entry source for the tetanus organism.
« Back to News Release List
Link to this event: