SIMCOE, FEBRUARY 22, 2018– In light of recent flooding in Haldimand and Norfolk counties, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) wants to offer some simple tips on how the public can stay safe under these hazardous conditions.
Stay informed: Listen to local radio and news stations to keep up-to-date on the situation. Check county websites for more information such as road closures, boil water advisories or other directions from authorities. Contact your insurance company to understand what you may or may not be covered for.
Injury prevention: Stay out of flood waters and off ice flows. With these cold waters, hypothermia can quickly set in, and both flowing as well as standing water can have hazardous debris below the surface. Avoid driving through flooded areas as they may be deeper than they appear. Never make contact with power lines or objects that are in contact with power lines. Wear strong gloves, steel-toed boots, an N95 mask and eye protection when cleaning up debris.
Water: Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, make ice or make baby formula. Outdoor pool and hot tub owners should remove contaminated flood water when it comes time to open them.
Well water: If your well has been affected by flood waters, it is recommended that you boil your water for at least one minute at a rolling boil, or purchase water from a safe source. Before resuming normal use of the well, have the water tested for possible bacteria and pollutants. The public can pick up water sample bottles at any HNHU office and have their water tested for bacteria free of charge.
Foods: Do not eat foods that have come in contact with flood waters. Throw away food that cannot be kept cold or properly heated due to lack of power. A refrigerator without power should keep food cool for about four to six hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer without power will keep items frozen for about two days. A half full freezer will keep items frozen for about one day.
Carbon monoxide poisoning: Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, seek fresh air and consult with a healthcare provider right away.
Home safety: If there is standing water in your home, never turn power on or off yourself – contact an electrician. All electrical panels, outlets and appliances that have been affected should be cleaned, dried and inspected by a qualified electrician.
First aid: Immediately clean all wounds with soap and clean water. If your skin or eyes come in contact with hazardous materials wash thoroughly with decontaminated water. Try to avoid getting cut as it could lead to tetanus. If possible, make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date.
Mould: Be sure to wear rubber gloves, a N95 mask and protective glasses when cleaning up materials containing or potentially containing mould. Remove mould by washing with soap and water and letting surfaces dry completely. Some materials such as mouldy clothing, ceiling tiles and sheet rock may have to be replaced. If mould-related illness is suspected, consult a healthcare provider.
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Kris Lutzi, BHS, BASc, CPHI (C)
Sr. Public Health Inspector and Emergency Planner,
Haldimand-Norfolk Health and Social Services Department
12 Gilbertson Dr., Simcoe, ON N3Y 4L1
Phone: 519-426-6170 ext. 3261