Even after the storm passes, the risks of getting sick or injured remain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these tips to remain safe.
Prevent illness from water
Local authorities will tell you whether tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing.
If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning or bathing.
For infants, use only pre-prepared canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water.
Disinfect children’s toys that have come in contact with water. Use a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water to disinfect the toys. Let toys air dry after cleaning. Some toys, such as stuffed animals and baby toys, cannot be disinfected; they should be discarded.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by many types of equipment and is poisonous to breathe.
Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or near a window, door or vent.
Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
If your carbon monoxide detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated.
Avoid floodwater and mosquitoes
Follow all warnings about water on roads.
If you have to work in or near floodwater, wear a lifejacket. If you are caught in an area where floodwater is rising, wear a life jacket, or use some other type of flotation device.
Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long pants, socks and long-sleeved shirts and by using insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin.
Pace yourself and get support
Be alert to physical and emotional exhaustion or strain. Set priorities for cleanup tasks and pace the work.
Try not to work alone. Don’t get exhausted.
Ask your family members, friends or professionals for support.
If needed, seek professional help.
Identify and throw away food that might not be safe to eat
• Throw away food that might have come in contact with flood or stormwater.
Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged.
Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
• Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more.
• Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below can be refrozen or cooked.
• If cans have come in contact with floodwater or stormwater, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup (240 milliliters) of bleach in 5 gallons of water.
Relabel the cans with a marker.
Clean up and prevent mold growth
Clean up and dry out the building quickly — within 24 to 48 hours. Open doors and windows.
Take out items that have soaked up water and that cannot be cleaned and dried.
Fix water leaks. Use fans and dehumidifiers and open doors and windows to remove moisture.
To remove mold, mix 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water, wash the item with the bleach mixture, scrub rough surfaces with a stiff brush, rinse the item with clean water, then dry it or leave it to dry.
Check and clean heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems before use.
To clean hard surfaces that do not soak up water and that might have been in contact with floodwater, first wash with soap and clean water.
Next disinfect with a mixture of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water and allow to air dry.
Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles when cleaning with bleach.
Open windows and doors to get fresh air. Never mix bleach and ammonia.
The fumes from the mixture could kill you.