FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 29, 2005
CONTACT: Doc Kokol (850) 245-4111
**HURRICANE KATRINA 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
- 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 tetanus booster.
- 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 wall coverings, 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,
- 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 option.
- 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
- 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
- Do not have the septic tank and drain field
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 department.
For further information, please contact your local
county health department or visit
Public Information Emergency Support Function:
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