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Health Concerns Rise With Flood Waters

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is assisting local county health agencies as they prepare for, and respond to severe flooding across the state. "Iowans are facing everything from basements flooded with water or sewage, to homes inundated with flood waters," said IDPH Director Tom Newton. "We understand that Iowans are concerned with saving treasured possessions, but personal safety must come first."

Public health officials remind Iowans to follow a few basic steps to avoid illness and injury. "Flooding can lead to significant health risks posed by improper waste disposal, cleanliness of drinking water, food safety, power outages, electrical hazards, clean up measures and others issues," said Newton. "The key is to exercise caution, especially during and after a flood."

IDPH reminds Iowans to:

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* Avoid contact with flood waters as much as possible. Do not wade, swim, or enter flood waters due to the unknown hazards that likely exist. Immediately wash hands and bare skin that come in contact with flood water with soap and hot water.

* Be aware that when power goes out, refrigerated food may go bad after two hours, and frozen food may spoil after 24 hours.

* If in a flooded area, use only clean water (bottled, boiled, or treated) for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene such as brushing teeth.

* Be extra careful during clean up efforts. Keep children and pets out of the affected area, discard any items that can not be completely washed and disinfected, and watch where you step.

* Only use gas-powered generators/power washers outside in a well ventilated area during clean up.