As everyone knows, we have had massive flooding throughout the state of Missouri this spring. It looks like it will be sticking around for a while.
Department of Health and Senior Services has posted some guidelines for everyone affected (yes, even if you are just working the flood). Please read them and follow the instructions. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office and ask for Kent or Mylene.
We hope everyone is staying safe and if you have to get in or around the flood waters, make sure you are up to date on all vaccines.
Returning to Flood Damaged Homes or Buildings
Dangers are not over after the water goes down. Flood hazards, such as a weakened foundation, exposed electrical wires or contaminated floodwater are not always visible. Keep the following safety tips in mind.
Before entering a building
- Check the outside of the building. Call the electric/gas company immediately if you find downed power lines or suspect a gas leak.
- Look for outside damage. Examine the foundation for cracks or other damage. Look at porch roofs and overhangs. Look for gaps between the steps and the house. If you see damage, have a building inspector check the house before you enter.
- If the door sticks at the top it could mean the ceiling is ready to fall. Enter the building carefully. If you force the door open, stand outside the doorway clear of possible falling debris.
After entering a building
- Look before you step. 1) Floors and stairs can be very slippery. 2) Be alert for gas leaks; do not strike a match or use an open flame. 3) Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. 4) Turn off the electricity. Even if the power company has turned off electricity to the area, be sure to shut the power off in your home. 5) Do not use appliances or motors that were wet, unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried. 6) Look for exposed wires. 7) Watch for small animals that have been flooded out of their homes. 8) Watch for snakes. Use a stick to carefully move or turn items over and scare them away.
- Drain the basement gradually to minimize further structural damage.
- Before beginning cleaning, shovel out as much mud as possible and hose the house down, inside and out. Flood waters may have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings.
- Spoiled food, cosmetics and medicine that have been in flood waters are also health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.
NOTICE: Guidelines for Food Establishments
After a Flood
TO: Food service and retail food establishments located in the state of Missouri.
FROM: The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Environmental Health Services. In the event of a flood the safe storage and handling of food products becomes a serious public health concern. Flood waters contain chemical and biological contaminants which can adulterate foods. As the owner or operator of a food establishment, you are responsible for maintaining your products in a wholesome condition and for proper disposal of adulterated foods.
Prior to reopening following flooding, establishment persons-in-charge (PICs) should conduct a complete establishment inspection to ensure that normal operations can be resumed safely and without compromising food safety. Establishments required to cease operations in an emergency or those affected by a natural disaster should not re-open until authorization is granted by the local or state regulatory authority.
You are also responsible for ensuring that temperature-abused, or otherwise adulterated food products are not
provided (sold, traded or given) to consumers as their consumption can lead to outbreaks of serious foodborne
- Discard all food and packaging materials that have been submerged in flood waters, unless the food is sealed in a hermetically sealed can that has not been damaged. Do not recondition products in containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped-caps (soda pop bottles), twist-caps, flip-top, snap-open, and similar type closures that have been submerged in flood waters. Do not salvage food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar containers that have been water damaged. Canned food should be washed, rinsed, sanitized and relabeled.
- Exposed and sensitive foods (e.g. produce) and single service articles stored above flood waters may have been adulterated and should be discarded.
- Thoroughly wash all physical facility interior surfaces (e.g., floors, walls, and ceilings), using potable water, with a hot detergent solution, rinsed free of detergents and residues, and treated with a sanitizing solution.
- Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and hot water. Rinse, and then sanitize them by boiling in potable water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water or other approved sanitizer. Follow instructions on the sanitizer label for appropriate concentration.
- Thoroughly wash countertops, equipment and non-food contact surfaces with soap and hot water. Rinse, and then sanitize by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water or other approved sanitizer. Allow to air dry.
- If the establishment is served by a well, the water should be disinfected and tested to confirm it is safe after flood waters recede. If you suspect well contamination, contact your local or state health department for specific advice.
- Floods are often accompanied by power outages. See the department guidance for food establishments in power outages.
Remember that this is your responsibility. Health department staff members or our authorized representatives will be
conducting checks of establishments to ensure compliance with food code regulations.
Received by: ____________________________________
Printed name: ___________________________________
Date: ____________________ Time: _______________
Health Department Representative: ________________________________________________________
Flood Clean-Up Instructions
- Follow instructions of emergency personnel as to when it is safe to return.
- Contact your insurance agent. Give your name, address and a phone number where you can be reached. Follow your insurance agent’s direction about when to begin clean up.
- Take pictures of the damage before beginning clean up.
- Keep records. List all clean-up and repair bills, flood-related living expenses and actual losses, such as furniture, appliances, clothing, etc.
- Adjuster will assess damage to house. Owner should sign proof-of-loss statement. Additional damages can be added when found. If you have a question or problem with your insurance carrier, contact the Missouri Department of Insurance: 1-800-726-7390.
- Be sure utilities are disconnected before entering the building for the first time.
- Disconnect main switch and all circuits. If the main switch is located in the basement, be sure all flood water is pumped out BEFORE attempting any work on electrical systems.
- This work is best done by an electrician.
- Have an electrician check for unsafe conditions and equipment before reconnecting systems.
- Equipment and wiring that appears to be safe soon after flooding may fail prematurely and cause a fire or shock hazard. Replacement is often the best option. Circuit breakers that have been under water should be replaced.
Cleaning up after the flood
- Mold is common after the flood.
- Your home should be washed to prevent health problems.
- In most cases household cleaning products will do the job.
- Read the label to see how much to use.
- Tackle one room at a time. The two-bucket approach is best. One bucket for cleaner, one for rinse.
Plywood subfloors may separate when flooded. Sections that separate must be replaced to keep floor from warping. When floor coverings (carpets, rugs, etc.) are removed, allow subflooring to dry (it may take several months) before installing new flooring.
- Carefully remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Consult a carpenter about removal techniques for tongue-and-groove boards.
- Clean and dry floor (it may take several weeks or months) before replacing boards and attempting repairs.
Tile and sheet-vinyl floors:
- If subfloor is wood, tile or sheet vinyl, it should be removed so wood can be replaced. If floor has not been soaked, loose tiles may be re-cemented after floor is dry.
- If subfloor is concrete, removing tile or sheet vinyl will speed drying of the concrete floor. If the tile or sheet vinyl is not damaged, you may allow the floor to dry on its own.
- If water has gotten under loose areas of the sheet flooring, remove the entire sheet.
- Ask a flooring dealer what will loosen the adhesive with the least damage to the floor.
Carpets and rugs
- Carpets and rugs are best cleaned by professionals.
- To clean them yourself, pull up water-logged carpets. Discard all padding. Rugs and pads should be dried outside on a clean, flat surface, such as a concrete driveway. Place face down so stains will wick to the back instead of to the face yarns.
- Hose off and, if badly soiled, add detergent. Work detergent into carpet with broom and rinse well. Remove as much water as possible quickly using steam, fans or water-extraction equipment. Take care to avoid electrical shock.
- To prevent mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of two tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
- Dry carpet and floor thoroughly before carpet is replaced. If carpet is put down wet, it may mildew. Carpet and backing may shrink.
- Take furniture outdoors to clean.
- Hose or brush off mud.
- All parts (drawers, doors, etc.) should be removed.
- Dry slowly out of direct sunlight (hot sunlight will warp furniture). It may take several weeks to fully dry.
- Appliances that have been under water must be cleaned and dried before starting.
- All electricity or gas must be turned off.
- Open as much as possible to rinse or wipe clean.
- Let dry. Three days to a week is necessary for drying.
- Check with an appliance person before reconnecting. Most appliances can be saved.
Cleaning and disinfecting
- Wash (hands, feet, etc.) frequently in purified or disinfected water.
- Wear rubber gloves for extra protection against contamination. If you have cuts or scratches on your skin you must wear rubber gloves.
- As flood waters go down, use a disinfectant to clean walls and woodwork. A garden sprayer works well, spraying from top to bottom.
- Scrub with a brush to help remove mud and silt.
- Rinse with clean water and dry. If electricity is on, use heater, fan or air conditioner to speed drying.
- Remove water from home/business as soon as possible.
- Remove inside of walls to point above water height.
- Remove and discard wet insulation.
- Treat interior wall studs and plates with household bleach solution to prevent mold.
- Open windows and doors and use fans to allow to dry.
- Leave walls open for four weeks or until they have dried.
Clothing and linens
- Even if your washing machine did not get wet, do not use it until you know that the water is safe enough to drink and that your sewer line works.
- Before you wash clothes in the washing machine, run the machine through one full cycle, using hot water and a laundry detergent with one cup of bleach.
- Take clothes and linens outdoors and shake out dried mud or dirt before you wash them.
- Check the labels on clothes and linens. Wash them in detergent, household bleach and warm water if possible. You can buy pine oil cleaners at the grocery store to sanitize fabrics that cannot be bleached. If the label says “Dry Clean Only,” shake out loose dirt and take the item to a professional cleaner.
Information and referrals
- Contact local, state and federal offices for help and answers to specific clean-up questions.
- Your University Outreach and Extension center can help with food and water safety, cleanup and restoration questions or referrals.
- ParentLink offers parents and others with resources to help children cope: 1-800-552-8522.
Handwashing/Bathing After a Flood
Cleanliness is important to help prevent the spread of disease. Clean, safe running water is necessary for cleanliness. Safe running water can sometimes be hard to find after a flood.
Keeping hands clean helps prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands after working in flood waters, after using the toilet, before handling food and before and after treating a wound. If your water well has been flooded or your home or business is under a boil water order, wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected. Follow these steps to make sure you wash your hands properly:
- Wet your hands with clean water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub your hands well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean cloth or paper towel.
A temporary handwashing station can be created by using a large water jug that contains clean water (for example, boiled or disinfected).
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.
Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.
Bathing after a water-related emergency should only be done with clean, safe water. Sometimes water that is not safe to drink can be used for bathing. Listen to local authorities for the safe uses of your water.
Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, or make ice.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Food Safety After a Flood
During power outages
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.
- Discard refrigerated food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items if the food temperature if above 41°F for more than 4 hours.
- Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 41°F or below when checked with a food thermometer.
- Never taste a food to determine if it is safe!
- Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a long period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.
- If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 41°F or below, the food is safe to refreeze.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
Steps to follow after the flood
- Throw away any food if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.
- Thoroughly wash all metal pans, dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water. Disinfect with a solution of 1 tablespoon of regular, household bleach per gallon of clean water.
- Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans can be saved if they do not have a flip-top lid. The cans should be cleaned and disinfected with a solution of 1 tablespoon of regular, household bleach per gallon of clean water.
- Use bottled water that has not been in flood waters. If bottled water is not available, tap water can be boiled for safety.
Immunization Shots in Disasters
What shots do I need before going home to the flood area?
Clean-up and repair activities present a risk of injuries that can lead to serious infections. One of the most serious infections is tetanus, also known as “lock jaw.” Tetanus (lock jaw) infection can be deadly but can be prevented by an immunization (shot).
- Get a booster dose of tetanus if you have not had a dose within the past 10 years or are unsure of the last time you had one.
- If you get a deep cut or puncture wound, seek immediate medical attention and ask about a tetanus booster.
For more information on immunizations, contact your health care provider, your local public health agency, or the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Immunizations Program at 866-628-9891.