For Immediate Release
October 25, 2005
Contact: DOH Press Office Doc Kokol 850-245-4111
** HURRICANE WILMA INFORMATION SHEET **
TALLAHASSEE – Following Hurricane Wilma, it is important take
safety precautions in areas experiencing flooding.
Moving Flood Water During flooding, the greatest threat comes
from moving water. The deeper the moving water, the greater the
threat. People should avoid driving in moving water, regardless of
the size of their vehicle.
Pooling Flood Water
Heavy rain causes flood waters to rise and pool on streets and
throughout neighborhoods. In these situations, be aware of the
- Road surfaces become obscured, and drivers can unknowingly
steer into a deep body of water, such as a canal or pond.
- Electricity from streetlights and power poles may be active through
standing water, causing a deadly shock to anyone coming in contact
- Children playing in contaminated standing water can
become sick or be bitten by snakes or floating insects.
coming into contact with floodwaters should thoroughly rinse any
exposed body parts with soap and sanitized or disinfected water.
Contaminated Water Supply
Drinking contaminated water may cause
illness. You cannot assume that the water in the hurricane-affected
area is safe to drink. Listen to local announcements on safety of
the water supply.
If your public water system lost pressure, a boil water notice
will likely be issued for your area. People in these areas should
take precautions to avoid contaminated water, especially individuals
with private wells. If your well is in a flooded area, your water
may contain disease-causing organisms and may not be safe to drink.
DOH recommends one of the following:
- Boil water for at least
one minute before using it for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.;
- Disinfect water by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 tsp – this would form a
puddle about the size of a dime) of unscented household bleach per
gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water
is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure. Use a container
that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be
used for drinking. This will prevent contamination; or
- Use only
bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.
After the flooding subsides:
- Disinfect your well using the
procedures available from your local health department, or provided
on the Department of Health Web site at
- Have your water tested by your local health department or by a
laboratory certified by the State to perform a drinking water
Do not eat any food that may have come into
contact with floodwaters. Discard any food without a waterproof
container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with
floodwaters. Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if
you remove the labels thoroughly, wash the cans, and then disinfect
them with a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of unscented household
bleach per gallon of water for clean surfaces. Re-label your cans,
including the expiration date, with a marker. Food containers with
screw-caps, snap lids and home canned foods should be discarded if
they have come in contact with floodwaters because they cannot be
Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic
utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. There is no way to
safely clean them if they have come in contact with contaminated
floodwaters. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils
with soap and hot water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water
or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1/4 cup of
household bleach per gallon of water.
Basic hygiene is very important during natural disaster.
Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or
disinfected and cooled. Hands should be washed before preparing or
eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after
handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling
garbage, after tending to someone who is sick or injured, after
blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after participating in
flood cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated
with flood water or sewage.
For further information, please contact your local county health
department or visit www.doh.state.fl.us or
The Florida Emergency Information Line: 1-800-342-3557.
Public Information Emergency Support Function: 850-921-0384.