Outside of immediate dangers, major flooding can pose serious health risks once people are back in their homes and flood waters recede. The City of Fort Collins Department of Environmental Services has developed tips to offer residents who are returning to flooded homes and property.
Flood waters may look inviting as a play area for children, but they pose various serious health risks that could include spread of infectious disease, exposure to chemical hazards and injury from debris, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/
Do not wade into moving flood waters. Children and pets should be kept out of flooded areas until cleanup is complete.
Some general tips during cleanup:
• Don’t shortcut normal safety precautions in the name of saving time or getting more done.
• Remove and discard all drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood water, at least up to the highest flood water level. The inside of the wall cavity should then be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water or with a hot power washer and soap. The wall must be thoroughly dry before re-insulating and refinishing. Help the drying process with fans, running your air conditioner, or a dehumidifier.
• Consider all flood waters to be contaminated and wear protective clothing during cleanup so there is no exposure to skin, mucous membranes, or wounds.
• Carefully wash and disinfect all items.
• People handling cleanup are encouraged to get a tetanus booster if they have not had one in the past 10 years.
Mold can also be an issue once residents return safely to their properties. First document any damage with photos and video before cleanup starts.
To address moisture in your home:
• Unplug electrical appliances
• Use bathroom and kitchen fans to ventilate
• Remove mud, which contains most health hazards
• Discard items that cannot be cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours
• Wipe down all surface areas with water and detergent
• Replace removable filters in furnaces and air conditioners
• Do not caulk or paint until area is thoroughly dry
For complete updates on flooding and to view the complete fact sheet on protecting indoor air quality, go to fcgov.com/2013-flood