Red Cross offers safety tips for after flooding
January 13, 2009 · Updated 1:27 PM
As flood waters begin to recede throughout north Snohomish County, the American Red Cross offers some safety tips to help residents who are returning to their homes or work after flooding.
n Stay out of any building if flood waters remain around the building. Floodwaters often undermine foundations, causing sinking, floors can crack or break and buildings can collapse.
n Avoid entering any building (home, business, or other) before local officials have said it is safe to do so. Buildings may have hidden damage that makes them unsafe. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage. See if porch roofs and overhangs still have all their supports.
n Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit.
n Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone outside quickly. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
n Never use a portable generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, including in your home or in a garage, basement, crawl space, or other partially enclosed area, even with ventilation. Locate generators outdoors and away from any doors, windows, and vents which could allow Carbon Monoxide (CO) to come indoors. Generators can produce high levels of deadly CO very quickly.
n Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters. If the cans are dented or damaged, throw them away. Food contaminated by floodwaters can cause severe infections. When in doubt, throw it out.
n If water is of questionable purity, boil or add bleach, and distill drinking water before using. Wells inundated by flood waters should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking. If in doubt, call your local public health authority. Ill health effects often occur when people drink water contaminated with bacteria and germs.
n Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of materials in contact with floodwaters.
n Eighty percent of those people who die as a result of flooding are in vehicles. If you come upon a barricade, turn around and go another way. If you come upon flood waters, do not drive through them; the road could be washed out underneath.