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SAFE, NOT SORRY

- Health Unit Offers Safety and Clean Up Tips for Area Residents Affected by Flooding -

(NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY) – Area residents affected by flooding due to recent heavy rains are being encouraged to put safety first.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit advises that floodwater affecting people’s property may contain sewage and other contaminants. Even though these contaminants in the floodwater may have been diluted and present a low risk, it’s still important to take precautions during cleanup and recovery efforts.

“Always wear protective clothing such as waterproof boots, apron and gloves while cleaning up,” says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “It’s also important to wash your hands with soap and water after being in contact with floodwater or items contaminated by the rising water.”

The Health Unit also offers these additional tips for people recovering from a flood:

Returning Home

• It is recommended to only fully reoccupy your home once it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and allowed to dry out. Remember power supplies may have been affected. Turn off the power and get advice from your supplier(s) before use.

General Cleaning:

• Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces such as walls, appliances, floors, and furniture with a solution made up with hot water and an ordinary detergent based household cleaning agent.

• Wash all soft fabric items (bedding, linen, clothing) in a hot water wash (or recommended temperature on detergent manufacturer’s instructions). Items that can’t be put in a washing machine should be dry-cleaned.

• Remove and discard items which are damaged beyond repair.

• After cleaning, allow items to dry thoroughly, which will help to destroy any leftover germs. Use fans, air conditioners, heaters and dehumidifiers (if available) to help the drying process. Remember that gas or diesel generators, dehumidifiers, patio-style gas heaters used in the drying process should never be used indoors without adequate ventilation. Without proper ventilation, exhaust gases containing carbon monoxide can build up to poisonous levels.

• Wash all clothes worn during clean up activities in hot water and detergent and wash separately from uncontaminated items.

Food:

• Throw out any food which has been in contact with sewage or floodwater. Don’t be tempted to try and salvage damaged food (including tins) which may have been contaminated.

• Ensure all surfaces where food will be stored or prepared have been cleaned with potable hot water and detergent and sanitized, including shelves in your refrigerator.

• All pots, cutlery and cooking utensils should be thoroughly washed and sanitized with a food-safe disinfectant, ideally in a dishwasher if available, before using.

• Wash your hands before and after preparing food.

Water:

• Follow the Health Unit's advice regarding the safety of the water supply. If there is any possibility the water supply has been affected, you will be advised to boil water before drinking. If you notice a change in water quality, like discolouration or a change in taste or smell, contact the Health Unit.

• Ensure water taps are cleaned and sanitized and run water through them thoroughly before using them for the first time.

For more flood cleanup tips, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 and speak to a Public Health Inspector, or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.

For media inquiries, contact:

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager, Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, or 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2222.

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