Staying safe after a flood or other natural disaster

rainFlooding can have devastating effects on your home and the community. After a flood or other natural disaster, there may still be many dangers. It is important to take the appropriate precautions when you are returning home or if you are living in a temporary shelter.

Cleanup

  • All hard surfaces, including walls, floors, and counter-tops should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water.
  • Wash all sheets, towels, and clothes in hot water (or have them dry cleaned).
  • Mattresses and furniture should be air dried in the sun and then sprayed with a disinfectant.
  • Any carpeting should be steam-cleaned.
  • Throw away any objects that cannot be cleaned and disinfected.

Health and safety

  • Keep children and pets away from the area until cleanup is complete.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching anything that has been in flood water or if you touch flood water.
  • Wear waterproof boots, gloves, and goggles during cleanup, especially if there was any contamination with sewage.
  • If you get a deep cut or wound, check with your health care provider to see if a tetanus shot is necessary.
  • Listen for any recommendations from local or state health departments.

If you’re pregnant

  • Drink plenty of bottled water and rest as often as you can.
  • Seek prenatal care, even if it isn’t with your typical provider.  And make sure that the provider is aware of any health conditions that you may have.
  • If you are in a shelter, make sure that the staff knows you are pregnant (or if you think you may be pregnant).
  • If you do not have any prescription medications that you need, contact your provider and the pharmacy to try to get them.
  • Make sure you avoid infections and other exposures that may be harmful. This would include fumes, flood water, and other toxins. Let others do the cleanup.
  • Even though you are taking care of others, make sure you take care of yourself too. Try to find healthy ways to reduce stress and talk to others about your feelings.
  • If you have any signs of preterm labor, call your health care provider or go to a hospital right away.

Other hazards

  • Shut off electrical power, natural gas, or propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution, or explosions.
  • Avoid downed power lines.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, leave your house right away and notify the gas company and police or fire department. Do not return to your home until you have been told it is safe.
  • Do not operate any gas-powered equipment (such as a generator) indoors. This can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home.
  • Avoid swiftly moving water (even if it is shallow). Cars can be swept away quickly. Make sure children do not play in flood water.

The CDC has more information about what to do after a flood. They also have helpful information for children.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

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One Response to “Staying safe after a flood or other natural disaster”

  1. Amelia Roster Says:

    Thanks for sharing this informative post on what precautions expecting mothers should take during floods and other natural disasters. CDC’s website also has some handy information on what action to take after a flood. Lets hope such situation never occurs where we have to take these precautions.

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