ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Health in partnership with the State Emergency Operations Center remind Minnesotans handling cleanup efforts of flooded areas to remember important safety information. Detailed safety advice is available at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/emergency/natural/floods/safety/index.html.
· When in doubt, throw out food that may have been in contact with flood water, including damaged cans and bottles with screw caps and “pop tops.”
· Throw out refrigerated or frozen food if it has been above 41 degrees for four hours or more; or thawed for two hours or more.
Drinking/Bathing Water Safety
· If your water well has been flooded, it is most likely not safe for drinking and not recommended for bathing until it has been cleaned out, disinfected, and tested safe for bacteria.
· Use only water from a safe source for drinking, cooking, making ice or baby formula, dishwashing, or brushing teeth.
· The safest water choices are store-bought bottles of water or water boiled at a rolling boil for at least one minute.
· During flood clean up, wash hands and exposed skin with soap and safe water well and often. Clean cuts right away and provide basic first aid.
· Do not let skin touch floodwater or items damaged by water.
· Wear waterproof gloves over heavy work gloves; keep the inside of gloves clean.
· Before reusing gloves, clean them with soap and safe water and dry.
· Wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and waterproof gear.
· Wear a hard hat and eye goggles without side vents.
Re-entering a Home or Building
· Look for electrical damage and call an electrician to help. If you can safely reach the fuse box or circuit breaker, turn off the electricity.
· If the house has been closed up for several days, open doors and windows to air out at least 30 minutes before you stay for any length of time.
· Look for fire hazards — broken or leaking gas lines; flooded electrical wires; furnaces and electrical appliances that are under water.
Check for gas leaks — if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, leave the building; turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can; and call the gas company from a remote location.
Be aware that your house may be contaminated with mold or sewage, which can cause health risks for your family.
Dry Out Your Home
· Dry out your home as soon as possible.
If you have electricity and an electrician has determined that it’s safe to turn it on, use a “wet-dry” shop vacuum (or the vacuum function of a carpet steam cleaner), an electric-powered water transfer pump, or sump pump to remove standing water.
· If you are operating equipment in wet areas, wear rubber boots.
· If you do not have electricity, or it is not safe to turn it on, you can use a portable generator to power equipment to remove standing water.
· If using gasoline-powered tools to clean, never operate the engine inside a home, basement, garage, carport, porch, or other enclosed/partially enclosed structures, even if the windows and doors are open.
· If weather permits, open windows and doors of the house to aid in the drying-out process. Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture.
· Fans should be placed at a window or door to blow the air outwards rather than inwards, so not to spread the mold.
· Have your home heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system checked and cleaned by a service professional with experience in mold clean-up before you turn it on.
· Prevent water outdoors from reentering your home. For example, rain water from gutters or the roof should drain away from the house; the ground around the house should slope away from the house to keep basements and crawl spaces dry.
· Ensure that crawl spaces in basements have proper drainage to limit water seepage. Ventilate to allow the area to dry out.
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