FORT MYERS, Fla.- While parts of Southwest Florida are still under water from recent downpours, Department of Health in Lee County wants to remind residents and visitors of ways to avoid flood-related health risks.
-Well Water Warning
Avoid eating or drinking anything that has touched flood waters. Private well water affected by flooding must be boiled for at least one minute
Before drinking, used with food or used for brushing teeth. Once floodwaters recede, wells must be disinfected and tested for bacteria before resuming normal use. Using bottled water is another option.
For more information on testing or disinfecting private wells, click here or call (239) 274-2200.
-Use Basic Hygiene
Basic hygiene is critical. Wash hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after participating in flood cleanup activities and after handling items that touched flood water or sewage.
-Avoid Standing Water
Do not wade through, play or allow children to play in standing water. If flood water cannot be avoided, bathe and put on clean clothes as soon as possible.
Avoid contact with flood waters to open cuts or sores. If open cuts or sores come into contact with flood waters, wash thoroughly (20 seconds or sing Happy Birthday twice) with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage, see a medical provider immediately. Anyone who has not had a tetanus vaccination within the past 10 years should get a tetanus booster.
-Dealing With Sewage
If there is a backflow of sewage into the home, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup. Remove and throw away home goods that cannot be thoroughly cleaned, such as wall coverings, cloth, rugs and drywall. Clean hard surfaces with soap and water, then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Thoroughly disinfect food contact surfaces (counter tops, refrigerators, tables) and areas where small children play. Wash all linens and clothing in hot water. Air dry larger items in the sun and spray them with a disinfectant. Steam clean all carpeting.
If plumbing is functioning slowly or sluggishly, conserve water as much as possible; the less water used the less sewage the septic tank must process. Minimize use of the washing machine or use a laundromat. Rental of a portable toilet until the water table has receded or moving temporarily are other options.
Do not have the septic tank pumped. Exceptionally wet ground might crush a septic tank that was pumped dry. If the problem is high ground water, pumping the tank does nothing to solve that problem.
Do not have the septic tank and drain field repaired until the ground has dried. Often systems are completely functional when the ground is no longer soaked with flood water. Any repair must be permitted and inspected by the Florida Department of Health in Lee County.