State Officials Urge Residents to Exercise Caution During and Af - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

State Officials Urge Residents to Exercise Caution During and After Severe Weather and Flooding

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) encourages Floridians to use caution around flooding and standing water resulting from the heavy rains in the Florida Panhandle. Floridians should continue to take precautions to ensure safety during and after severe weather, and to protect life then property. Heed all instructions from local emergency management officials and always dial 911 during an emergency.

“We urge residents and visitors in affected areas to take precautions to protect themselves and their families from potential health risks presented by floodwaters,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon. “As the SERT continues to respond to the impacts of this rain event, safety is our first and foremost concern, and Florida’s residents and visitors should continue to heed instructions from local emergency management officials.”

Flood Safety and Post Flood Clean-up
• Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Do not drive through or try to cross flooded roadways.
• Look before you step, as the ground and floors may be covered with debris. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
• Avoid contact with downed power lines and electrical wires.
• Do not open manhole covers.
• Clean up debris to avoid injury and contamination.
• Operate chainsaws only in safe conditions (not in water soaked areas) if experienced in proper use.
• Lift heavy debris by bending knees and using legs to help lift.
• Wear shoes that cover the entire foot to avoid injury to the feet from glass, nails or other sharp objects.
• Be alert to wildlife (snakes, alligators, etc.) that may have been displaced as a result of flooding.
• Heed posted signage near affected area waterways.
• Follow beach warning flags and do not swim if the beach is closed.
Sanitation and Hygiene: Preventing Waterborne Illness
• Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before eating, after toilet use, after participating in cleanup activities and after handling articles contaminated by floodwater or sewage.
• Flood water may contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks. If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled water.
• Apply antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection. If a wound or sore develops redness, swelling or drainage, seek medical help.
• Do not play in floodwater as it may be contaminated.
• Do not allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water to disinfect toys and other items.
Food Safety: Preventing Food-borne Diseases
• Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges.
• Commercially prepared cans of food should not be eaten if there is a bulging or opening on the can or the screw caps, soda pop bottle tops or twist-caps.
• Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels and then disinfect the cans in a bleach solution. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water; re-label the cans including expiration date and type of food. Assume that home-canned food is unsafe.
• Infants should be fed only pre-mixed canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water. Use boiled water when preparing formula.
• Frozen and refrigerated foods can be unsafe after a flood. When the power is out, refrigerators will keep foods cool for only about four hours. Thawed and refrigerated foods should be thrown out after four hours.

For additional information about severe weather in Florida, and to Get A Plan, visit www.FloridaDisaster.org, follow FDEM on social media on Twitter at @FLSERT, Instagram @FloridaSERT, Vine @FloridaSERT, Pinterest FloridaSERT and Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FloridaSERT and www.Facebook.com/KidsGetAPlan.

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The above was released Wednesday by the Florida Emergency Response Team.