Friday, July 02, 2010
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Health and safety precautions during local flooding

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[July 02, 2010]  Public health and safety are the No. 1 concerns after heavy rains and flooding. Floodwater can carry bacteria and other contaminants that could cause disease and illness. During this time of heavy rains and possible flooding in the Illinois River basin, the Logan County Department of Public Health urges all residents to take safety precautions against diseases:

  • Avoid or minimize skin contact with floodwater, especially in case of cuts and sores. Keep them clean and covered. Always wash thoroughly after coming in contact with floodwater or objects contaminated with floodwater. Frequent hand washing is important.

  • Do not use water from flooded water wells. An alternate source of potable water should be obtained, such as bottled water. Once floodwaters recede, the well should be tested to make sure the water is safe to drink. Contact your local health department to obtain a test kit.

  • Do not eat or drink anything that has been exposed to floodwater. Canned food goods can be used if the can is in good condition -- free of swelling, denting, punctures -- and if the contents were not at risk of coming in contact with floodwater. Tin cans are usually safe if they appear undamaged. Wash cans in bleach water -- one-fourth cup bleach in one gallon of water -- for one minute, then dry to prevent rusting.

  • Electricity and water are a deadly combination. Turn off main power switch if necessary. Avoid working with appliances that are wet. Air out appliances and outlets before use. Do not work with appliances, wiring or electricity if you are wet or standing in water. If you have questions regarding electrical systems in the home, contact your utility company.

  • Run gas-powered generators in a well-ventilated area -- not in home or garage -- to avoid carbon monoxide exposure. Heaters that use wood, coal, natural gas or kerosene products produce carbon monoxide gas and should also be used only in well-ventilated areas.

  • Wear rubber boots, gloves and proper respirator masks (N95 or HEPA) during cleanup. Use soap, rinse water and a sanitizer solution consisting of no more than one cup of bleach per one gallon of water for surface areas. For food-contact surfaces, use no more than one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water. Discard objects that are porous, non-cleanable or cannot be laundered.

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  • Avoid mosquito exposure by wearing a mosquito repellent -- for example, one that contains DEET -- and by wearing long-sleeved and light-colored clothing, repairing any screens, removing any standing water on your property, and minimizing the amount of time outdoors between dusk and dawn. While most mosquitoes that breed in standing water from floods are merely pests, some can still carry diseases such as West Nile virus.

The Logan County Department of Public Health is urging you to play it safe during floods. For additional information to protect yourself and your family, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website at or contact the Logan County Department of Public Health at either 217-735-2317 or

For more information on other public health issues, visit

[Text from file received from the Logan County Department of Public Health]

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