In the wake of Irene and Lee, people are slowly beginning to return to their homes and businesses, and for the first time are able to really take in the level of damage these storms left behind. As the clean up process begins, however, officials are warning folks about the dangers involved with treating flood damage to their property.
Officials are quick to warn people about the dangers of eating food that may have been exposed to contaminated flood waters. It is always best to simply assume that any food left behind in your home is now contaminated. In addition, well water should not be considered safe. Many counties are distributing MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) along with bottled water.
A large number of people are still without power in many areas affected by Irene and Lee. That said, it is always advisable to go ahead and shut off power supplies at their source. The power will come back on at some point, and you want to be able to control when it does. If you are standing in ankle deep water when the electricity comes surging back on, the results could be potentially fatal.
In the same vein, flooding can also damage gas lines, so shut off your gas until the system can be professionally inspected. Remember, it only takes a spark to trigger a rather severe result.
Unfortunately, many homes were so damaged by the storms that they will have to be condemned and torn down.
It is also important to note that floods leave behind a considerable amount of debris to be cleaned up, and people should not work through these debris piles unprotected. Materials left behind by floods could contain toxic substances, harmful bacteria, and viruses. It is strongly advised to wear protective clothing, long pants, sleeves, heavy duty gloves, waterproof boots, and eyewear when working around debris piles left behind by flood waters. Always take a shower and clean any clothes that have come into contact with flood waters.
If you have cuts or scratches, keep them bandaged or covered. Open skin wounds are the fastest way for harmful bacteria to enter your system.
Move as much flood related trash to curbside so that it can be picked up and properly disposed of. Collection points may also be announced in various communities.
Even re-entering a flood damaged home can be a hazard. Remember that a flood can literally shift a home on its foundation, making it prone to collapse. You will want to make sure the building is structurally sound, that there isn’t a risk of the ceiling dropping on you, or the floor falling out from under you.
And of course make sure that you don’t have any unwanted guests…..wildlife, particularly snakes, tend to show up in flood damaged homes.
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