Sanitation & Hygiene
During an emergency, basic hygiene is essential to averting disease and illness because of the disruption of normal handling of sewage and other pollution. Small children, pregnant women and people with health problems should stay out of affected areas until cleanup is complete.
Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after helping in the cleanup effort and after handling articles contaminated with floodwater or sewage.
Avoid eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater. Don't allow your children to play in floodwater areas. Wash their hands frequently. Disinfect your children's toys with a solution of one of cup bleach to five gallons of water.
Mud, mold and mildew – The triple threat
Mud left behind by floodwaters may contain health hazards. It is very important to get rid of this mud as soon as possible and to use care when doing so. Protect your eyes, mouth and hands.
When cleaning, wear rubber gloves and, if possible, a face mask. Use a soap containing disinfectants to wash your hands when you¹re done.
To remove mold and mildew, follow the suggestions below.
- Brush off mold or mildew growth on household items outdoors to prevent scattering of spores in the house.
- Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew. Then wash surfaces with a detergent or household cleaner and water solution. Rinse well.
- Wipe mildew-stained areas with a cloth dampened with a solution of chlorine bleach, or disinfectant, or one cup of rubbing or denatured alcohol to one gallon of water. Dry thoroughly. To prevent mildew growth, use an air conditioner, dehumidifier or heater if available, to remove moisture. Use fans to circulate air and open all windows. Turn on electric lights in closets and leave doors open to dry the dampness and humidity.
Report health hazards. Tell the health department about animal carcasses, rats, dangerous chemicals and similar hazards on your property. Be patient with your family, your neighbors, government agencies and members of volunteer organizations. Remember that many others are in the same situation you are in, and it may take time for everyone to get service.