For Immediate Release: Aug. 7, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON - State officials are advising residents in southern Vermont, including the Goshen, Ripton, Leicester, Salisbury, East Middlebury and Hancock areas affected by flooding on Wednesday to take special precautions to prevent illness and injury.
More rain is forecast and additional flooding may result where the ground is saturated with water. Two buildings in Hancock have been impacted by flooding, and there are driveways and lawns that are flooded, making access to some area homes difficult.
Safety instructions from Vermont Emergency Management and the Vermont Department of Health include:
- 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 must first check 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, as it may be contaminated with microorganisms, such as bacteria, sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals, and other harmful substances.
- People with drinking water wells that are in flooded areas should assume that their water is contaminated. 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).
- Do not drink water from the tap 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
- Food that has contact with flood or storm water or has been left unrefrigerated for awhile may be unsafe to eat. Throw away any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers. Throw away perishable foods that have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for 2 hours or more. Thawed food that contains ice crystals, or is 40 degrees F or below, can be refrozen or cooked. Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Fruits and vegetables that may have come into contact with flood waters during the heavy rains should be discarded. Above ground fruits or vegetables that are exposed to flood water cannot be washed and cooked. Lettuce, herbs and berries, which have matured and already developed fruit, may be contaminated. It is difficult to remove all of the contaminants by rinsing – especially the leafy crops. Those crops should be thrown away. Root crops are safe to eat as long as they are thoroughly washed and cooked.
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. If a wound gets red, swells, or drains, seek immediate medical attention.
- Mold can also grow inside a damp building. Open doors and windows and use fans to dry out the building.
- Clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water. Remove any mold by using a bleach solution (one cup of bleach in one gallon of water). Wear rubber gloves and keep the windows and doors open while using bleach.
- 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 website at: healthvermont.gov.