For Release:- May 13, 2015 - Office of Communications - 405/271-5601
As storms with elevated levels of rainfall continue to be a threat to the state, the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s (OSDH) Emergency Preparedness and Response Service reminds residents that flooding can cause fatalities and serious injuries for people who are trapped or swept away by wading in, or driving through floodwaters.
During storms with high levels of rainfall, OSDH encourages Oklahomans to evacuate flood prone areas before flooding begins. An evacuation plan should consist of multiple escape routes in case roads are blocked. Evacuation plans should also take into account people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, pets and even livestock.
When evacuation is not possible or when driving during heavy rains, it is important to remember not to enter flooded areas, or even areas with only inches of moving water. The depth of water is not always obvious, and the surface underneath the water may be washed out. Hazards in floodwaters often consist of rocks, mud, debris, oil, gasoline and even sewage.
Flood damage can lead to a number of public health issues. OSDH recommends the following tips:
Listen for news reports to learn whether a community’s water supply is safe to drink.
Have wells checked for contamination from bacteria and chemicals.
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage, bacteria and chemicals. Professional services and/or guidance may be necessary before attempting to repair flood-damaged property.
Throw out any food, including canned items, which was not maintained at a proper temperature or has been exposed to floodwaters. Do not eat food from a flooded garden.
Remove and replace any drywall or other paneling which has been underwater. Mold growth in hidden places is a significant health hazard.
OSDH also recommends keeping a go bag to have ready for evacuation. Keep emergency supplies such as snacks, a change of clothes, prescription medicine, medical equipment, important documents and valuable items such as family photos and irreplaceable mementos.