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September 20, 2019

Houston Health Department Offers Flood Safety Recommendations After Tropical Storm Imelda

The Houston Health Department recommends people in the Houston-area keep safety in mind during recovery from flooding due to Tropical Depression Imelda.

“Good hygiene, food safety and properly sanitizing a flooded home are of the utmost importance the next few days,” said Dr. David Persse, local health authority for Houston Health Department.

The department recommends people follow the flood safety precautions below.

Food Safety
Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with floodwater. If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup (8 oz/250 mL) of bleach in 5 gallons of water.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Home
When rain or flood waters get into your home, take steps to prevent mold growth. First, wash surfaces with soap and warm clean water to remove dirt and debris. Next, sanitize surfaces with household bleach. Clean it with a solution of 1 cup household liquid bleach per 5 gallons of water. Remember:

  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup is complete.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with floodwaters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, counter tops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
  • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers.

Tetanus Shot
People seven years of age and older with puncture wounds or cuts that were exposed to flood water or dirt may be at risk for contracting tetanus. They will need a tetanus shot if they have not had one in the past ten years. Please consult your primary care physician or your medical home. Exposure to flood water without a wound or skin injury is not a risk for tetanus.

Good Hygiene
Practice good hygiene (handwashing) after contact with flood waters.

  • Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.
  • Wash children's hands frequently (always before meals).
  • Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.