For Release: September 1, 2008
Contact: Oklahoma State Department of Health
Flood Precautions Issued
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has issued the following flood precautions.
• Watch for news media announcements about the safety of public drinking
water supplies. Follow "boil water" alerts that may be issued by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Take no chances on water from an unknown source.
• Persons under boil water alerts and persons with private wells that may have been contaminated by flood water should use only bottled, boiled or treated water until water has been tested and found safe.
• If you boil water for drinking purposes, allow it to boil for at least one minute. Water also may be disinfected with chlorine or iodine (follow package directions) or with ordinary household bleach -- one-eighth teaspoon (about eight drops) per gallon of water. Sterilize water containers and drinking vessels with a solution of household bleach.
• Do not eat foods that have been in contact with flood water.
• If electricity has been off, refrigerated food may have spoiled. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours or if it has an unusual odor or color. Thawed foods from freezers may be safe for consumption or refreezing if they still are partially frozen or are "refrigerator cold."
• Babies on formula should be given ready-to-feed formula or powdered formula prepared with bottled drinking water.
• Wash hands with soap and disinfected water before eating or handling foods, after clean-up work and after handling flood water-contaminated items.
• Snakes and other wildlife may seek shelter in trees, homes and vehicles. Bats are often injured in heavy rains and winds. Do not handle these or other wildlife and be certain to seek immediate treatment if bitten or injured by an animal. Beware of displaced pets.
• Return home in daylight for best visibility and to avoid using unsafe power sources. Do not use lanterns or torches until after the premises are safe from gas leaks.
• Standing water after floods is a breeding place for mosquitoes. Drain all standing water and empty water from outdoor items such as old tires, cans and flowerpot bases. Protect yourself with an appropriate insect repellent.
• Let no one re-enter your home while flooded unless the main electrical switch has been turned off.
• Wear shoes in post-flood areas to reduce the chances of punctures or cuts from nails and other sharp contaminated objects.
• Persons with puncture wounds or cuts exposed to floodwater could be at risk of contracting tetanus and may need to have a tetanus shot to prevent infection. Tetanus shots are available at your local county health department or through your physician.
• If you come upon an area covered with water, turn around. Do not try to drive through or walk through the water and never go around barricades. A mere six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away a vehicle. So practice the “turn around, don’t drown” technique.
• Do not allow children to play in or near floodwater or storm drains.
• Disinfect all furniture, woodwork and other household surfaces in homes that have flooded. Disinfect children's toys with a solution of one-cup bleach to five gallons of water. To prevent producing toxic fumes, do not mix bleach with products that contain ammonia.
• Wash hands frequently during cleanup to lessen recontamination of cleaned areas.
• To prevent allergic reactions and other health problems caused by mold, replace porous wallboard (from at least 12 inches above the waterline) that has been flood-damaged. For more information on mold, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/protect.asp.
• To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not burn charcoal or use gasoline-powered generators or pumps indoors.
• Try to rest and conserve energy and avoid heat stress. Persons with heart conditions and other illnesses should avoid strenuous exertion.
• Remain calm. Signs of anger and depression are normal under catastrophic conditions. Sensitivity to the stress felt by others can help restore calm.
Flood-related Submersion Injuries in Oklahoma (PDF)
Mold Fact Sheet (PDF)
Acute Disease Service
Infection Prevention For Flood And Hurricane Season
Cleaning and Sanitizing With Bleach after an Emergency (PDF)
Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster
Protect Yourself from Mold
A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home
Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
Coping With a Disaster