The floodwaters in southwest Iowa are beginning to recede, and the cleanup efforts are underway. In Atlantic, Cass County Community Hospital Health Specialist Denise Coder says residents need to follow some simple guidelines when dealing with the remnants of the mess created by the flood, in order to avoid health complications.
Wash well, and avoid coming into contact, the best option. Of course it’s not always possible and you should check out how long it’s been since you’ve had a tetanus vaccination. If it’s been more than ten years, contact your local health care provider, especially if you have any type of open wound.
Even if you don’t have any cuts she’d still recommend taking a look at your vaccination history. "You should always make sure you’re up-to-date on your tetanus," Coder says. "You never know when you’re going to get an exposure there."
Coder says another problem posed by power outages in times of flooding, is the spread of food-borne diseases. She says a lot of people have stored food in places like basements where the containers can be contaminated by floodwaters. Canned goods should be okay as long as they’re washed with soapy hot water and then sterilized with boiling water or you’ve wiped off the top with chlorine bleach.
Toss anything with a corked lid or a screw-top glass container, or anything you can see that water got into. Mold poses another health hazard, and she has some suggestions for cleaning areas soaked by floodwaters.
First wash everything with soap and water, and then she says you can sterilize it with a chlorine solution — half a cup of laundry bleach to a gallon of water, to wipe off all surfaces.
After you’ve finished cleaning, wash your hands with soap and water. Coder suggests singing the "Happy Birthday" song twice through, as a timer — to ensure you’ve washed your hands long enough.