Flooding can pose health risks | Health
Recent rains have resulted in flooding in parts of Southeast Georgia posing many health risks to residents and precautions should be taken, according to Southeast Health District officials.
Debris, sewage and animal waste can wash into yards, homes and businesses as a result of flooding. Well water may become contaminated and standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Flood waters are a breeding ground for viruses, mold, bacteria and other microorganisms that can stimulate allergic reactions and cause disease.
Flooded wells can also pose health risks. If your private well was flooded during the recent rains or could be at risk of flooding, the well water could be in danger of contamination from pollutants carried by the floodwaters.
“It’s not safe for people to remain in areas that are flooded,” said Dwain Butler in a news release, SEHD Environmental Health Specialist. “It’s important to take precautions to protect your family and yourself.”
Public health officials recommend the following precautions:
- If your home or business is flooded, you need to evacuate the area until the waters recede.
- If you suspect your well water is contaminated, stop drinking it immediately or using it for cooking and preparing food. Switch to bottled water or another safe water supply such as a neighbor’s well you know is safe. If you cannot find a convenient source of safe water, boil the water for two minutes at a rolling boil before using it.
- If a well is suspected to be contaminated the well and entire plumbing system should be disinfected. This procedure is best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer with the expertise and equipment; however, well owners may disinfect the well and plumbing system themselves. Instructions on disinfecting a well can be found on SEHD’s Web site at www.sehdph.org.
- Environmental health specialists in health departments throughout the SEHD’s 16-county area are available to tests wells; however, the water must have receded and the well be completely dried out. Residents are encouraged to have their well treated before testing the water for safety.
- Prevent well contamination during future flooding by having your well casing pipe raised to at least two feet about the regional flood elevation. Remember to test your well water at least once a year for bacterial contamination, and periodically for other contaminants, based on the land uses in your area.
- Finally, eliminate standing water by pouring out stagnant water in birdbaths, pet dishes, old tires and any other receptacle in which mosquitoes might breed. This will greatly reduce mosquito populations.
For more information, contact your local health department.
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