After a harrowing few days of wind, flooding, and fire thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the East Coast has a long recovery ahead of it–and isn’t out of the woods yet. If you’re starting the clean-up process today or in the near future, now’s a good time to brush up on proper flood clean-up safety measures. Because, well, floodwater is pretty unsanitary and dangerous.
Though it may just seem like dirty-looking rainwater, the fact is that the floodwaters deposited by Hurricane Sandy may be full of serious, water-borne communicable illnesses and potentially harmful toxins. Hepatits A, E. coli, lead, and arsenic have all been found in floodwaters in the past. As a result, the water that may have flooded your home, office, or school should be treated as a potential health risk, which requires special handling.
If you’re cleaning up after the storm, here are some tips from the CDC for staying safe:
- Wear protective gear during cleanup. This includes goggles, and, possibly, face masks–but definitely gloves and rubber boots.
- Carpet, drywall, furniture, and anything else that’s been damaged by water and can’t be thoroughly disinfected should be removed and safely thrown away.
- Wash you hands frequently, and wash the clothes you wear during cleanup separately from other clothing.
- If you’re not positive the water from your tap is safe to wash your hands with, boil it for at least a minute, then allow it to cool, then wash. Ensure that children keep their hands away from their mouths and faces until they’ve been washed.
- Disinfect all toys that may have come in contact with flood water before allowing children to play with them. You can do this with diluted bleach.
For more information about disaster recovery procedures and safety, check in with the CDC.
As our friends on the East Coast cope with the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, those of us on the West are sending our very best wishes–and, hopefully, our donations to the Red Cross.
Image: sakhorn via Shutterstock