Published: Jun 28, 2012 3:49 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 28, 2012 4:10 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The State Emergency Response Team (SERT), with the Florida Department of Health, encourages Floridians to use caution as flooding and standing water form as a result of the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby, now a post-tropical cyclone.

“We urge residents and visitors in affected areas to take precautions to conserve water and protect themselves and their families from potential health risks presented by storm surge and floodwaters,” said State Coordinating Officer Bryan W. Koon. “As the SERT continues to respond to the impacts of Tropical Storm Debby, life safety is our first and foremost concern and Florida’s residents and visitors should continue to heed instructions from local officials.”

Do not allow children to play in floodwater, as it may contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks. If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled water. Do not allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water to disinfect toys and other items.

“Widespread flooding remains a critical issue for a number of our communities,” said State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. “We are continuing to partner with the State Emergency Response Team and urge all residents in affected areas to heed all safety alerts issued by their county health department and the Florida Department of Health team.”

Emergency management officials encourage the public to listen for announcements about the safety of the public water supply, and take action if a boil water notice has been issued. Flooding may have the potential to contaminate the public water supply. Water treatment plants may not be operating or water lines may be contaminated due to the effects of the tropical storm.

Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. If your well has been flooded, it needs to be disinfected and tested after the storm passes and floodwaters recede. Questions about testing should be directed to your county health department.

Important tips on how to keep your family healthy and safe include:

  • Do not drive through flooded roadways.
  • Look before you step, as the ground and floors may be covered with debris, including bottles and nails.
  • Avoid contact with downed power lines and electrical wires.
  • Do not open manhole covers.
  • Clean up debris to avoid injury and contamination.
  • Operate chainsaws only in safe conditions (not in water soaked areas) if experienced in proper use.
  • Wear shoes to avoid injury to the feet from glass, nails or other sharp objects.
  • Be alert to wildlife (snakes, alligators, etc.) that may have been displaced as a result of flooding.
  •  Heed posted signage near affected area waterways.

Find contact information for your local county health department at www.doh.state.fl.us. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 – November 30. To GET A PLAN! visit www.FloridaDisaster.org. For the latest information on the 2012 Hurricane Season, follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsert and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FloridaSERT.