Here are tips on how to protect your family after the hurricane from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.
Preventing foodborne diseases
•People should not eat any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges.
•Commercially prepared cans of food should not be eaten if there is a bulging or opening on the can or screw caps, soda bottle tops or twist-caps.
•Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if labels are removed and cans are disinfected in a bleach solution. Use 1/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water; re-label the cans including expiration date and type of food. Assume that home-canned food is unsafe.
•Infants should preferably be breast fed or fed only pre-mixed canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with untreated water, use boiled water instead.
•When the power is out, refrigerators will keep foods cool for approximately four hours. Thawed and refrigerated foods should be thrown out after four hours.
Sanitation and hygiene
•Basic hygiene is very important during this emergency period. Always wash your hands with soap and water. Use only water that has been boiled or disinfected for washing hands before eating, after toilet use, after helping in cleanup activities and after handling items contaminated by floodwater or sewage.
•Flood water may contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks. If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled water.
•Apply antibiotic cream to reduce the risk of infection. If a wound or sore develops redness, swelling or drainage, see a physician.
•Do not allow children to play in floodwater. They can be exposed to water contaminated with fecal matter.
•Do not allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use 1/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water to disinfect toys and other items.
•Using battery-powered lanterns and flashlights is preferred.
•Never use candles.
Post flood cleanup
•Chainsaws should only be operated in safe conditions (not in water soaked areas) and by people who are experienced in proper use.
•Lift heavy debris by bending knees and using legs to help lift.
•Wear shoes to avoid injury to the feet from glass, nails or other sharp objects.
•Avoid contact with downed power lines.
•Be alert to wildlife (snakes, alligators, etc.) that may have been displaced as a result of the flood or storm. If you see a snake or other wildlife, back away from it slowly and do not touch it. If the snake is in your home, immediately call the animal control agency in your county.
•Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
•Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
•Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
•Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once to twice a week. Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
•Maintain swimming pools in good condition and keep appropriately chlorinated.
•Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people working in areas where mosquitoes are present.
•Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective.
•Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
For more information, contact your county health department or visit www.floridahealth.gov or www.FloridaDisaster.org.