For Immediate Release: June 16, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON - State officials are advising residents in southern Vermont, including the City of Rutland, affected by flash flooding over the weekend to take special precautions to prevent illness and injury.
More rain is forecast this week and additional flooding may result where the ground is saturated with water. Stay tuned to local media for updates and safety instructions.
- Always leave flooded areas and never walk or drive through floodwaters. If you need to evacuate your home, always turn off power at the circuit breaker – if there is time.
- Do not return to a flooded building until a qualified professional has inspected your electrical system. Inspectors from the Vermont Division of Fire Safety are in the city checking electrical systems to ensure homes are safe for occupancy.
Prevent Illness from Water
Water may not be safe to drink, clean with, or bathe in after a flood, and it may be contaminated with microorganisms, such as bacteria, sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals, and other harmful substances.
People with drinking water wells in flooded areas should assume that their water is contaminated, and take precautions to protect health if the well is in close proximity to flooded areas, or if there has been a change in water quality (odor or taste).
Until a water test confirms that the water is safe, use bottled water, or boil water for one minute to make it safe for drinking, cooking, making juice or ice, washing fruits or vegetable and brushing teeth.
Prevent Illness from Food
Another source of potential illness is food that is no longer safe to eat, including any food that has contact with flood or storm water.
- Throw away any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers).
The Health Department is sending a team of sanitarians to help affected food establishments recover.
Prevent and Treat Injuries and Other Illnesses
- Clean any open wounds or cuts that have been exposed to flood water with soap and clean water, and if a wound gets red, swells, or drains, seek immediate medical attention.
- Inside buildings, mold can also create a health concern after a flood, so open doors and windows and use fans to dry out the building.
- Clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water and remove any mold by wearing rubber gloves and cleaning with a bleach solution (one cup of bleach in one gallon of water) with the windows and doors open.
- Throw away carpet and upholstered furniture (porous items) that cannot be dried quickly.
For more detailed information on how to avoid illness and injury during or after a flood, visit the Health Department web site at: www.healthvermont.gov.