Fremont County Environmental Health Specialist, Erman Mullins, shared the flood health and safety tips from the University of Iowa’s State Hygienic Laboratory below.
Mullins reminds the public they can get more information by clicking on the Environmental Health tab on the FremontCounty website at: https://www.co.fremont.ia.us/.
Common Illnesses from Exposure to Flood Water
• Skin and tissue infections following superficial cuts, scratches, abrasions, or insect bites • Deep tissue infections following puncture wounds or trauma
• Gastrointestinal illnesses following ingestion of contaminated water or food
Prevention of Flood-related Illnesses — Remember Basic Hygiene Practices
• Always wash hands with soap and water before eating food and after handling articles contaminated with flood water.
• Avoid prolonged exposure to flood water.
• Wear protective gloves, boots and eye wear.
• Work cautiously, rest frequently and eat a balanced diet.
• Bathe or shower in clean water as soon as possible after exposure to flood water.
• Use insect repellents to discourage biting insects.
Safe Drinking Water Options
• Obtain water from a known safe public water supply or buy bottled water.
• Haul and store drinking water in clean containers (not old milk or juice jugs).
• Clear water may be treated for drinking by boiling it for one minute or by adding two to three drops of unscented household bleach per gallon.
Private Well Recommendations
• Don’t drink water from flooded wells unless it has been properly disinfected and then tested for drinking safety.
• Contact your local county health department for a free flood sampling container and advice.
• AFTER flood waters have receded, shock chlorinate and flush wells BEFORE submitting a sample to the Laboratory for testing.
• Shallow wells (less than 100 feet deep) can be contaminated from nearby flooding and should be tested to ensure a safe supply of drinking water.
Food Safety Recommendations
• Discard all containers with signs of leakage or damage.
• Foods in paper, cardboard or flexible plastic must be thrown away.
• Discard foods in corked bottles, canisters and screw-capped jars or bottles.
• Canned goods may be sanitized and used if the label is removed, the can is washed in hot, soapy water and the item is identified with a permanent marking pen.
• Solutions containing chlorine bleach are not recommended for cleaning cans because they accelerate rusting.
• Leafy vegetables cannot be washed adequately to be eaten raw.
• Thawed foods should not be refrozen.
General Clean-Up After a Flood
• Use non-sudsing cleaning products (Spic and Span®, Trisodium Phosphate, etc.) to wash interior surfaces.
• Use commercial cleaners for fabrics.
• Disinfect sewage-contaminated areas with a solution of household bleach (1/4 cup per gallon of water).
• Consult professional carpet cleaners before attempting to salvage carpet or carpet pads. • Remove flood damaged sheet rock to permit studs and insulation to dry thoroughly.
• Remove silt, sludge, and debris from ductwork and dry it thoroughly before reactivating heating/air conditioning units.
State Hygienic Laboratory Services to Flood Families
• Private well water testing for individuals through county health departments
• Consultation on disease prevention, water and food safety and disinfection of environmental surfaces
Sources of Additional Information and Assistance
• ISU Extension Service
• Iowa Department of Public Health
• Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
• County Health Departments
• American Red Cross
• Iowa Department of Natural Resources