Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:00 pm Last modified: 3:38 pm

CDC Gives Safety Tips for After Hurricanes, Flooding

Caribbean Hurricane

Hurricanes can cause dangerous and destructive high winds, flooding, heavy rain and storm surges. The following points can keep a family safe after a hurricane has made landfall. There may be a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, downed power lines, mold, etc. For tips on how to be safe after a hurricane visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Web site at . Below are a few key recommendations:

  • Don’t go to the attic of the home. If the highest floor of the home becomes dangerous, get on the roof. Call 911 for help and stay on the line until the call is answered.
  • Avoid driving through flooded areas, especially when the water is fast moving.

o   As little as six inches of water can cause someone to lose control of her or his vehicle.

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  • Avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning after a disaster. Only use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area at least 20 feet away from doors, windows and vents that can allow CO to come indoors.
  • Avoid injuries when you return to the home after the storm.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites; reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area.
  • Be prepared to cope with feelings of fear, grief and depression after a traumatic event.

o   The Disaster Distress Helpline ( provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support. Call 1-800-985-5990 (TTY for deaf/hearing impaired: 1-800-846-8517) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.


  • Follow local flood watches, warnings and instructions.

o   Get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons or washes.

o   Return to the flooded home only after local authorities have said it is safe to do so.

o   If evacuation appears necessary, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve.

o   Have immunization records handy or be aware of your last tetanus shot in case you receive a puncture wound or a wound becomes infected during or after the flood.

  • Listen for water advisory from local authorities to find out if your water is safe for drinking and bathing.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach. Rinse and fill with clean water.
  • Throw away any food and bottled water that might have come into contact with flood or storm water. Learn how to save undamaged food packages exposed to flood water.
  • Use bleach to clean mold off hard things like floors, stoves, sinks, countertops, plates and tools.

o   Dilute bleach to the proper concentration

  • Throw out items that cannot be washed and cleaned with bleach, such as mattresses, pillows, carpeting, carpet padding and stuffed toys.
  • Remove and throw out drywall and insulation contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces, such as concrete, wood and metal furniture, countertops and appliances, with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.


  • To keep food at safe temperatures the longest, avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the doors stay closed, and a full freezer will maintain its temperature for approximately 48 hours. A half-full freezer only maintains its temperature for about 24 hours.
  • Place appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer so you will know if food is at a safe temperature. Set your freezer at or below 0°F, and your refrigerator at or below 40°F.
  • If food in your freezer has ice crystals or is below 40°F, the food may be safely refrozen.
  • When it comes to the safety of your food, when in doubt, throw it out.
  • Learn more at .


  • Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they have shelter for owners and pets in an evacuation.
  • Disasters are stressful for humans and pets alike. Practice safe handling; a pet may behave differently during a stressful situation.
  • Exposure to weather, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put a pet at risk for getting sick. Some of these illnesses can be spread to people.
  • If you and your pet are separated, get your family is in a safe location before you begin your search.
  • Learn more:

CDC has hurricane public service announcements (PSAs), including some in Spanish and American Sign Language:

  • Cleanup
  • Food and Water Safety
  • Injury and Disease Safety
  • Medication Safety
  • Stay Safe at Home After a Tropical Storm or Hurricane
  • Stay Safe Outside After a Tropical Storm or Hurricane


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