That’s according to the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services and Office of Emergency Services, which are advising all residents to be prepared for issues related to flooding as warmer weather moves into the area, starting as early as next week.
“Conditions such as this can turn dangerous at any time and we urge everyone to take the necessary precautions to protect their health and safety,” said Christine Schuyler, County Director of Health & Human Services.
Moving Flood Water
During flooding, the greatest threat comes from moving water. The deeper the moving water, the greater the threat. People should avoid driving in moving water, regardless of the size of their vehicle.
Pooling Flood Water
Heavy rain causes flood waters to rise and pool on streets and throughout neighborhoods. In these situations, be aware of the following:
- Road surfaces become obscured, and drivers can unknowingly steer into a deep body of water, such as a canal or pond.
- Electricity from streetlights and power poles may be active through standing water, causing a deadly shock to anyone coming in contact with it.
- Children playing in contaminated standing water can become sick or be bitten by snakes or floating insects.
- People coming into contact with floodwaters should thoroughly rinse any exposed body parts with soap and sanitized or disinfected water.
Contaminated Water Supply
Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. Listen to local announcements on safety of the water supply. If necessary, a boil water notice will be issued for your area. People in these areas should take precautions to avoid contaminated water, especially individuals with private wells. If your well is in a flooded area, your water may contain disease-causing organisms and may not be safe to drink. Please follow these recommendations:
- Boil water for at least one minute before using it for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.; OR
- Disinfect water by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 tsp – this would form a puddle about the size of a dime) of unscented household bleach per gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure; OR
- Use only bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.
After the flooding subsides:
- Disinfect your well using the procedures available from the DHHS/Public Health Division or provided online at www.nyhealth.gov; and
- Have your water tested by DHHS/Public Health Division or by a laboratory certified by New York State to perform a drinking water analysis.
Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with floodwaters. Discard any food without a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with floodwaters. Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels thoroughly, wash the cans, and then disinfect them with a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of unscented household bleach per gallon of water for clean surfaces. Re-label your cans, including the expiration date, with a marker. Food containers with screw-caps, snap lids and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come in contact with floodwaters because they cannot be disinfected.
Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. There is no way to safely clean them if they have come in contact with contaminated floodwaters. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with soap and hot water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1/4 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.
Basic hygiene is very important during natural disaster. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected and cooled. Hands should be washed before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling garbage, after tending to someone who is sick or injured, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after participating in flood cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage.
For further information, please contact the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Division at 1-866-604-6789. A quick reference guide for flooding is available on the Health Department’s website: www.co.chautauqua.ny.us or www.health.ny.gov/publications/2708.pdf.