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County urges residents to stay out of the water | Health

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County urges residents to stay out of the water
Health, News, Weather
County urges residents to stay out of the water

Pasco County, Florida -- Many residents are experiencing flooding due to Tropical Storm Debby and while some residents may have no choice but to wade, paddle or drive through the water, the county is urging everyone to stay out of the water if possible.

The county says that although skin contact with flood waters may not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, health hazards are a concern when waters become contaminated. Flood waters may contain fecal material, associated bacteria, viruses and other pollutants.

The Pasco County Health Department (Pasco CHD) recommends the following precautions to prevent possible illness from flood waters:

  • Basic hygiene is critical. Wash hands contaminated with flood waters with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after participating in flood cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage.
  • Do not eat or drink anything that has been contaminated with flood waters.
  • Do not wade through standing water. If you do, bathe and put on clean clothes as soon as possible.
  • Do not allow children to play in flood waters.
  • Avoid contact with flood waters if you have open cuts or sores.  If you have any open cuts or sores and cannot avoid contact with flood waters, keep them as clean as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention. Residents who sustain lacerations and/or puncture wounds and have not had a tetanus vaccination within the past 10 years require a tetanus booster.
  • If there is a backflow of sewage into your house, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup. Remove and discard absorbent household materials, such as wall coverings, cloth, rugs, and sheetrock. Clean walls and hard-surfaced floors with soap and water and disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Thoroughly disinfect food contact surfaces (counter tops, refrigerators, tables) and areas where small children play. Wash all linens and clothing in hot water. Air dry larger items in the sun and spray them with a disinfectant.

If you are on a septic system, and your plumbing is functioning slowly or sluggishly, you should:

  • Conserve water as much as possible; the less water used the less sewage the septic tank must process. Minimize use of your washing machine. Consider utilizing a laundromat. Rental of a portable toilet for a temporary period may be another option.
  • Do not have the septic tank pumped out. Exceptionally high water tables might crush a septic tank that was pumped dry. If the problem is high ground water because of the rains and flooding, pumping the tank will not solve the problem.
  • If you cannot use your plumbing without creating a sanitary nuisance, such as discharging sewage on the ground, consider moving temporarily to a new location until conditions improve.
  • Do not have the septic tank and drainfield repaired until the ground has had an opportunity to dry. Often systems are completely functional when unsaturated conditions return. Any repair must be permitted and inspected by your county health department.

For more information, please contact your local county health department or visit www.doh.state.fl.us or www.FloridaDisaster.org.

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