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Frequently Asked Questions - Health and Safety
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department works closely with local municipalities to assist with public health issues if needed and offers the following tips:
When returning to your home after a flood, be aware that floodwater may contain sewage or other hazards. Protect yourself and your family by following these steps:
- Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup is completed
- Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area
- Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, wall coverings and most paper products)
- Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters
- Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, counter tops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent
- Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers
- After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before using).
- Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of teaspoon [~0.75 milliliters] of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of teaspoon (~1.5 milliliters) of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
- Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill
- If you are cut or have a puncture wound while working in the floodwater or with items that were exposed to the floodwater, be sure your tetanus immunization is up to date
- Be particularly careful to thoroughly disinfect surfaces that may come in contact with food, such as counter tops, pantry shelves, refrigerators, etc. Areas where small children play should also be carefully cleaned.
- Wear sturdy shoes or boots with no open toes.
- Wear heavy gloves
- Apply lots of sunscreen
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
- Keep a first aid kit nearby
- Get a tetanus shot
Review the guidelines in the Oklahoma City-County Health Department's Food Safety and Power Outages document.
Anyone who has not had a tetanus booster within the past 10 years should get one before picking through debris.