FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 9, 2005
CONTACT: Lindsay Hodges 850-245-4111
**HURRICANE DENNIS INFORMATION SHEET **
Flood Waters Pose Health Risks
Tallahassee – Hurricanes can cause flooding. Although
skin contact with flood waters does not, by itself, pose a
serious health risk, health hazards are a concern when
waters become contaminated. Flood waters may contain fecal
material, associated bacteria and viruses.
DOH recommends the following precautions to prevent
possible illness from flood waters:
- Basic hygiene is critical. Wash your hands with soap
and water that has been boiled or disinfected before
preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after
participating in flood cleanup activities, and after
handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything that has been
contaminated with flood waters.
- Do not wade through standing water. If you do, bathe
and put on clean clothes as soon as possible.
- Avoid contact with flood waters if you have open cuts
or sores. If you have any open cuts or sores and cannot
avoid contact with flood waters, keep them as clean as
possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If
a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek
immediate medical attention. Residents who sustain
lacerations and/or puncture wounds and have not had a
tetanus vaccination within the past 10 years require a
- If there is a backflow of sewage into your house, wear
rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup. Remove
and discard absorbent household materials, such as
wallcoverings, cloth, rugs, and sheetrock. Clean walls and
hard-surfaced floors with soap and water and disinfect with
a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water.
Thoroughly disinfect food contact surfaces (counter tops,
refrigerators, tables) and areas where small children play.
Wash all linens and clothing in hot water. Air dry larger
items in the sun and spray them with a disinfectant. Steam
clean all carpeting.
If your plumbing is functioning slowly or sluggishly, you
- Conserve water as much as possible; the less water used
the less sewage the septic tank must process. Minimize use
of your washing machine. Go to a laundromat. Rental of a
portable toilet for a temporary period may be another
- Do not have the septic tank pumped. Exceptionally high
water tables might crush a septic tank that was pumped dry.
If the fundamental problem is high ground water, pumping the
tank does nothing to solve that problem.
- If you cannot use your plumbing without creating a
sanitary nuisance, i.e., without sewage being exposed,
consider moving to a new location until conditions improve.
- Do not have the septic tank and drainfield repaired
until the ground has dried. Often systems are completely
functional when unsaturated conditions return. Any repair
must be permitted and inspected by your county health
For further information, please contact your local county
health department or visit
The Florida Emergency Information Line: 1-800-342-3557.
Public Information Emergency Support Function:
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