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By Patricia Roberts

September 15, 2020

Patti Roberts, PIO

DeFuniak Springs, FL –-Tropical storms and hurricanes can cause flooding.
Although skin contact with flood waters does not, by itself, pose a serious
health risk, health hazards are a concern when waters become contaminated.
Flood waters may contain waste material with associated bacteria and

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 the 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 disguised 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 present in 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 wash and
rinse any exposed body parts with soap and disinfected water.

Contaminated Water Supply
Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. Water in a hurricane-affected
area may not be safe to drink. Listen to local announcements on safety of the
water supply.
If the public water system lost pressure, a boil water notice will likely
be issued for your area. People in these areas should take precautions to avoid
consuming contaminated water. If your well is in a flooded area, your water may
contain disease-causing bacteria and may not be safe to drink.
The Florida Department of Health recommends one of the following:
Boil water for at least 1 minute before using it for drinking, cooking,
making ice, brushing teeth, or washing dishes.

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. Use a container that
has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used for drinking. This
will prevent contamination.
Use only bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.
After the flooding subsides:
Disinfect your well using the steps provided by your local health department,
or located on the Department of Health’s website at health/private-welltesting/index.html.
If available, have your water tested through your county health department or by
a laboratory certified by the state to perform a drinking water analysis.
Contaminated Food
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 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.
Contaminated Items
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 a 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 helping in flood cleanup activities, and after handling items
contaminated with flood water or sewage.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board,
works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through
integrated state, county and community efforts.
Follow us on
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information about the Florida Department of Health please visit