After Disaster Hits Home, Use Precaution To Avoid Health Risks

Armen Hareyan's picture

Hurricane season just officially started June 1 but the state of Georgia has already been hit hard by various tornados and strong winds that have downed power lines and destroyed buildings. The Georgia Division of Public Health wants to remind residents to use precaution during clean-up activities and properly store food and water in order to prevent any health risks.

Clean-up activities After a Disaster

* Do not enter a building if you smell gas. Call 911. Do not light a match or turn on lights.

* Wear waterproof boots and gloves to avoid floodwater touching your skin.

* Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank) for cleanup work.

* Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.

* Wash your hands often with soap and clean water, or use a hand-cleaning gel with alcohol in it.

* Avoid tetanus and other infections by getting medical attention for a dirty cut or deep puncture wound.

* Do not touch fallen electrical wires. They may be live and could hurt or kill you.

* Turn off the electrical power at the main source if there is standing water. Do not turn on power or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.


* Never use generators, pressure washers, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper--or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide--an odorless, colorless gas from these sources that can cause sudden illness and death--can build up indoors and poison the people and animals inside.

Food and Water

* Listen to public announcements to find out if local tap water is safe for drinking, cooking, cleaning, or bathing. Until the water is safe, use bottled water or boil or disinfect water.

* If a "boil water" advisory is in effect, do not drink tap water unless water has come to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute or is treated with unscented household chlorine bleach (add 1/4 teaspoon bleach to 1 gallon of cloudy water, 1/8 teaspoon bleach to 1 gallon of clear water).

* Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.

* You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands.

* Do not eat food that smells bad, looks bad, or has touched floodwater. When in doubt, throw food out.

* If the power is out for less than two hours, then the food in the refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.

* If the power is out for longer than two hours, follow the guidelines below:

* Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it. A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours.

* If possible pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.