Health and safety guidance following extended power outage and storm damage
Residents within Oneida County over the past several weeks have experienced heavy storms leading to down power lines and trees, flooded homes and roadways, and power outages.
As clean up continues, and with more storms forecasted, Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) encourages its community members to know risks and suggests the following to keep residents and their families safe:
Well water testing
Private well owners that are concerned that their well has been affected by floodwaters should assume that the well is contaminated, do not drink or bathe in contaminated well water and arrange for testing of the well. Contact OCHD at 715-369-6111 to learn more about well testing and costs. Signs that a well may be contaminated include:
- Floodwaters came into contact or ran over the top of a well.
- You notice changes in the taste, smell, or color of the water.
- You have a shallow well and live near areas that have been flooded.
Protective gear and safety tips to prevent illness
- Avoid storm/flood water, as it may contain bacteria, viruses, hazardous waste, debris and sharp objects.
- Wear rubber boots, gloves and eye protection during clean up.
- Do not eat, drink, chew gum/tobacco, or smoke while cleaning.
- If injured, clean out open wounds and cuts with soap and clean water, cover with clean dry bandages, and contact a doctor if a wound gets red or swells or if you received your last tetanus vaccine more than 10 years ago.
Food and medication safety
- Throw away food that has been stored above 40°F for 2 hours or more, or comes in contact with storm water and is not in an air tight container. Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety.
- Food that has come in contact with storm water and is in a sealed air-tight container may be usable if you remove paper labels and follow cleaning and sanitizing instructions for hard surfaces listed below.
- If food in the freezer is colder than 40°F or has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it. When in doubt throw it out.
- Medications exposed to water, heat, or humidity may not be safe for use. Anyone having questions about the safety or storage of medicine should contact their pharmacist.
Cleaning and sanitizing
- Materials that have been in contact with storm or flood water for two or more days may have mold growth.
- Remove items that soak up water and can’t be cleaned easily like leather, paper and wood.
- Open windows and doors to get fresh air in while you use bleach. Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.
- Wash hard surfaces with soap and warm water, rinse with clean water, sanitize with a mixture of 1 cup unscented bleach and five gallons of clean water, allow to air dry.
- Have your septic inspected if there is concern that your system is not working properly.