Health department offers flood clean up tips

SIDNEY — Shelby County residents have experienced flooding and/or power outages due to recent severe weather. The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department would like to provide residents with the following information.

Disease outbreaks are rare after flooding, however, floodwaters may contain various bacteria, viruses, and other infectious organisms that may cause disease. Floodwater may also contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial byproducts. Animal carcasses can carry disease and should be removed as soon as possible. While skin contact with floodwater does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, ingesting food or drink contaminated with floodwater may cause disease. Good handwashing with soap and clean water is the number one way to prevent infection from floodwaters.

The real work starts after the floodwater has receded. If your water well has been subjected to flood water, the water should be run for about 30 minutes to allow the well to recharge naturally. It should then be chlorinated and the water tested for safety. The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department has chlorination procedures and can provide bacterial testing, as well as, advise and inspect any flooded wells in question.

The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department has information on flood clean up and proper disposal of garbage and trash as a result of the severe weather.

• If your sewage system has been flooded, it should not be used until the water has receded. Check your yard for broken lines and surfacing sewage. If you have an aeration system or any mechanical pumps, be sure the motor is still working and repair if necessary.

• Foods subjected to flood waters should be discarded. If the food was stored in a refrigerator or a freezer after a power outage, the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department can offer advice on how to determine if it is still safe.

• Licensed food services or retail food establishments subjected to floodwaters must contact the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department for an inspection before re-opening to ensure safe conditions exist.

• If you have any kind of cut, burn, or infection on your hands, be sure to use plastic or rubber gloves if you must be in contact with floodwater. If open sores become exposed to contaminated water, disinfect the area(s) with soap and clean water to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, immediately seek medical attention.

The tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through places where the skin is broken, so it is very important to protect these areas. Wound cleaning and proper immunization are important. Anyone sustaining a puncture wound or who has a wound that becomes contaminated with feces, soil, or saliva should receive a tetanus booster immunization especially if it has been longer than five years since you had a tetanus shot. The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department has Tetanus vaccine available for the general public. Call the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department at 498-7249 with any questions or to schedule an immunization appointment.