Public health officials are reminding residents to avoid contact with floodwaters and to follow some basic steps to avoid injury and illness as they respond to flooding across the county.
"Flooding can lead to significant health risks posed by improper waste disposal, cleanliness of drinking water, electrical hazards and mold damage," said Mindy Waldron, Administrator of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health. "We would urge people to exercise caution during clean-up efforts."
Floodwaters can contain harmful parasites and bacteria which can cause diseases such as Tetanus, E. coli and Leptospirosis. If there is a break in the skin, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause gastrointestinal illnesses, skin infections and other illnesses.
It is best to avoid contact with floodwaters as much as possible or at least to minimize it by using personal protection equipment such as boots and gloves. Never allow children or pets to play in floodwaters.
If people do come in contact with floodwater, they should bathe and wash their clothes with hot, soapy water immediately afterward. Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms such as a fever of more than 100 degrees, cuts in skin appearing infected or painful, diarrhea lasting more than 3 days or bloody diarrhea.
People whose homes were flooded should also take the followings steps:
- After floodwaters have receded, try to prevent mold growth inside your home. Flooded basements, in particular, provide an ideal environment for mold growth. Dry all water-damaged surfaces. Materials that can be cleaned should be washed with a strong detergent and water mix. Disinfect all objects or surfaces that can be cleaned using a bleach water solution (generally ¼ cup bleach to one gallon water). Discard any items that cannot be washed and disinfected. Have carpets professionally cleaned if possible. Wash your hands frequently during cleanup and always wear rubber gloves.
- If you suspect your well may be contaminated, call a professional about having your well disinfected and the water tested. There may also be a danger of electrical shock from the pump or other electrical components that have been flooded.
For more information on floodwater safety, visit www.allencountyhealth.com.