Break-up Flooding FAQ: Be prepared for action

AkiakFlooding4
Akiak Flooding, 2009. photo courtesy of Chris Ho.

Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim River communities may experience break-up flooding in the next few weeks. Our Office of Environmental Health has prepared answers to some Frequently Asked Questions so you can be better prepared.

Why does flood water compromise our health?

  • Flood waters contain countless fecal bacteria from honeybucket waste, sewage, lagoons and animal droppings.
  • It also carries loose trash and waste oils that may have harmful chemicals. Coming in contact with flood waters can put you at risk for illness.

What can we do to prepare for a flood?

  • Unplug all electrical appliances at risk of getting wet and move them to a higher ground.
  • All valuables or home items at risk should be moved to higher ground. If possible carpets should be removed from the floor.
  • Stock extra heating fuel.
  • Keep inventory of emergency supplies (see question 4).
  • Review a copy of your insurance policy, and consider adding flood coverage.

After a flood what can we do to avoid exposure to harmful agents?

  • Do not use contaminated water to clean or do dishes.
  • Check with your water plant operator to see if the community water source is safe to use. If not, disinfect water by bringing it to a full boil for 2 minutes. If water is clear, 1/8 teaspoon of household bleach can be added for every gallon of water treated. In cloudy water, ¼ teaspoon per gallon should be added. Let the mixtures stand for a half hour before use.
  • In a flooded home, all electrical and oil or propane tanks should be shut off to avoid the risk of fire. All down powerlines should be avoided. Appliances should not be used until all components are dried completely.
  • Discard or thoroughly wash food items that have been in contact with flood waters.
  • Hands should be washed with disinfected water after anytime one comes in contact with flood waters.
  • If you have a personal well that is covered in flood water, do not use the well! Contact the YKHC Office of Environmental Health (OEH) at 1-800-478-6599 for well disinfection instructions.
  • If you come in contact with flood waters (especially in an open wound), see the local Health Aide to find out if you need a tetanus booster.
  • DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN NEAR FLOOD WATER!

What emergency supplies should I keep in my home?

  • Clean containers filled with several days worth of water.
  • 3-5 day supply of non-perishable foods.
  • First aid kit and any needed prescription medicines.
  • Battery powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
  • Supplies for a baby like diapers and baby wipes.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Personal hygiene supplies as well as cleaning supplies for home like dish soap and sponges.
  • Bleach for disinfection of water and home surfaces.

How can I clean my home?

  • Start with drying out. Remove wet items from the home until they are dry, and dry all surfaces in the home.
  • Wall and hard surfaces can be cleaned with dish soap and disinfected with a mixture of 1 cup of bleach for every 5 gallons of water.
  • Wash all linens, stuffed animals, pillows etc. in hot water and use a mechanical dryer on the high heat setting if possible. If an item cannot be washed, air dry it in the sun a spray it thoroughly with a disinfectant.
  • All plastic toys should be disinfected with a bleach solution.

Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim River communities may experience break-up flooding in the next few weeks. Our Office of Environmental Health has prepared answers to some Frequently Asked Questions so you can be better prepared.

Why does flood water compromise our health?

  • Flood waters contain countless fecal bacteria from honeybucket waste, sewage, lagoons and animal droppings.
  • It also carries loose trash and waste oils that may have harmful chemicals. Coming in contact with flood waters can put you at risk for illness.

What can we do to prepare for a flood?

  • Unplug all electrical appliances at risk of getting wet and move them to a higher ground.
  • All valuables or home items at risk should be moved to higher ground. If possible carpets should be removed from the floor.
  • Stock extra heating fuel.
  • Keep inventory of emergency supplies (see question 4).
  • Review a copy of your insurance policy, and consider adding flood coverage.

After a flood what can we do to avoid exposure to harmful agents?

  • Do not use contaminated water to clean or do dishes.
  • Check with your water plant operator to see if the community water source is safe to use. If not, disinfect water by bringing it to a full boil for 2 minutes. If water is clear, 1/8 teaspoon of household bleach can be added for every gallon of water treated. In cloudy water, ¼ teaspoon per gallon should be added. Let the mixtures stand for a half hour before use.
  • In a flooded home, all electrical and oil or propane tanks should be shut off to avoid the risk of fire. All down powerlines should be avoided. Appliances should not be used until all components are dried completely.
  • Discard or thoroughly wash food items that have been in contact with flood waters.
  • Hands should be washed with disinfected water after anytime one comes in contact with flood waters.
  • If you have a personal well that is covered in flood water, do not use the well! Contact the YKHC Office of Environmental Health (OEH) at 1-800-478-6599 for well disinfection instructions.
  • If you come in contact with flood waters (especially in an open wound), see the local Health Aide to find out if you need a tetanus booster.
  • DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN NEAR FLOOD WATER!

What emergency supplies should I keep in my home?

  • Clean containers filled with several days worth of water.
  • 3-5 day supply of non-perishable foods.
  • First aid kit and any needed prescription medicines.
  • Battery powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
  • Supplies for a baby like diapers and baby wipes.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Personal hygiene supplies as well as cleaning supplies for home like dish soap and sponges.
  • Bleach for disinfection of water and home surfaces.

How can I clean my home?

  • Start with drying out. Remove wet items from the home until they are dry, and dry all surfaces in the home.
  • Wall and hard surfaces can be cleaned with dish soap and disinfected with a mixture of 1 cup of bleach for every 5 gallons of water.
  • Wash all linens, stuffed animals, pillows etc. in hot water and use a mechanical dryer on the high heat setting if possible. If an item cannot be washed, air dry it in the sun a spray it thoroughly with a disinfectant.
  • All plastic toys should be disinfected with a bleach solution.

If you have any questions, please contact the YKHC Office of Environmental Health (OEH) at 1-800-478-6599.

 

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