Avoid contaminated floodwaters – There is always the possibility that flooding will cause sewage treatment systems (both community and residential) to fail, exposing people to disease-causing bacteria.
Be on the lookout for dangerous wildlife in the floodwaters such as snakes, rats, alligators or any frightened animal. Stay away.
Be aware of submerged electrical or power lines. Electrocution is a major killer in floods. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility company or local emergency manager.
If you have been in contact with floodwaters, showering with soap and water is sufficient.
Wading in the water could pose a health risk if contaminated flood water enters the body through an exposed wound.
“Our message is clear, ‘stay out of the water.’ Rapidly rising waters pose many dangers, but they can all be avoided by not coming into contact with the water,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer.
Guidry also assured citizens that there is usually not a risk for Hepatitis A, typhoid or cholera from the flood waters from direct contact with the water, however, the floodwaters should never be consumed.
Don’t drink floodwater – Because the floodwaters may contain disease-causing bacteria or viruses, don’t drink or ingest it.
If you get your drinking water from a well, boil it before drinking it.
Private water wells- If water wells are inundated with flood waters, the water should be boiled or disinfected prior to consuming. Water can be disinfected by the following methods:
1-Bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute in a clean container.
2-Mix 1/8th (one-eighth) of a teaspoon of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to each gallon of clear water. If water is cloudy use 1/4th (one-fourth) teaspoon to each gallon of water. After mixing thoroughly let it stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking.
Private wells that have been inundated with flood waters should be disinfected and then sampled for bacteria once the flood water recedes.
Be aware of any other boil water advisories issued by the State, local government or your local water system.
Other tips offered by health officials include:
Motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians should use precautions when crossing any flowing body of water due to the possibility of dangerous currents and drowning.
Practice good hygiene during cleanup – Assume that everything touched by floodwater is contaminated with bacteria and will have to be disinfected. People are advised to wash their hands frequently during cleanup and always wear rubber gloves.
Septic tanks – Flooding will keep septic systems and other residential sewage disposal systems from operating correctly until the floodwaters recede. Homeowners should avoid using the home’s plumbing system if the septic tank or the drain field is still underwater. Do not use the plumbing system if sewage is backing up into the house.
Look before you step – After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken glass, nails and other sharp objects. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
Gas Leaks – Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.
Carbon Monoxide – Always use a generator or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. The same goes for camping stoves. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly – cook with charcoal only outdoors.
Clean-up – Floodwaters can pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories and storage buildings. Spoiled food and flooded cosmetics and medicines are health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.