Hurricane cleanup

Betty Boone tosses her father’s water logged medical books onto the growing pile of debris from her home on Poplar in Galveston. Boone had several feet of water from Hurricane Ike in her home.

Photo by Jennifer Reynolds

Even after the storm passes, the risks of getting sick or injured remain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these tips to remain safe.

Prevent illness from water

Local authorities will tell you whether tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing.

If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning or bathing.

For infants, use only pre-prepared canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water.

Disinfect children’s toys that have come in contact with water. Use a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water to disinfect the toys. Let toys air dry after cleaning. Some toys, such as stuffed animals and baby toys, cannot be disinfected; they should be discarded.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by many types of equipment and is poisonous to breathe.

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.

Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.

Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.

If your carbon monoxide detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated.

Avoid floodwater and mosquitoes

Follow all warnings about water on roads.

If you have to work in or near floodwater, wear a life jacket. If you are caught in an area where floodwater is rising, wear a life jacket, or use some other type of flotation device.

Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long pants, socks and long-sleeved shirts and by using insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin.

Pace yourself and get support

Be alert to physical and emotional exhaustion or strain. Set priorities for cleanup tasks and pace the work.

Try not to work alone. Don’t get exhausted.

Ask your family members, friends or professionals for support.

If needed, seek professional help.

Identify and throw away food that might not be safe to eat

Throw away food that might have come in contact with flood or stormwater.

Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged.

Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.

Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more.

Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below can be refrozen or cooked.

If cans have come in contact with floodwater or stormwater, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup (240 milliliters) of bleach in 5 gallons of water.

Relabel the cans with a marker.

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