How to avoid floodwater related health risks

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KRON) — Santa Clara County health officials are warning about the potential risks for people living in flooded areas.

Floodwaters may contain hazardous materials including raw sewage, animal wastes, household chemical compounds, bacteria and other potential contaminants.

People should take every precaution to stay away from the water to avoid illness or injury.

If you have come in contact with flood waters, the Public Health and Environmental Health Departments urges you to follow these guidelines:

  • Thoroughly wash all parts of your body that have come in contact with floodwaters with soap and clean water.
  • Keep open cuts or sores as clean as possible by washing with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. Get immediate medical attention if the wound becomes red, swollen or starts draining.
  • Do not eat any food that may have come in contact with floodwater. If you suspect food came in contact with the water, throw it away.
  • Food containers with screw caps, snap lids, flip caps, snap caps, twist caps and home-canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater because they cannot be disinfected.
  • Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels, thoroughly wash the cans and disinfect them with a solution consisting of one tablespoon of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • Do not let children play with toys which have been in contact with floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Disinfect toys using a solution of one cup of bleach in five gallons of water.

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