Preparing for high waterWhile recent predictions have waters reaching lower levels than originally anticipated, there are still safety issues that can stem from flood season - and many that can be prevented.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
While recent predictions have waters reaching lower levels than originally anticipated, there are still safety issues that can stem from flood season - and many that can be prevented.
Flooding of wells is a common risk during high waters. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends storing a supply of clean or bottled water and disconnecting the power supply to wells during flood season.
If there is enough time before water is expected to reach the area, officials recommend having a contractor install a watertight cap on the well. A makeshift cap also can be made by covering the top of the well with a heavy-duty trash bag or plastic sheeting and sealing with electrical tape or other materials - but do not use duct tape, MDH officials say, because it won't hold under flood conditions.
After waters recede, the MDH recommends having the well disinfected and water tested, even if the well was sealed, and using bottled water for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth and other household activities until the well water is deemed safe.
Well contamination risks are lower if the floodwater didn't reach the wellhead but was within 50 feet, and virtually nonexistent if waters were farther than 50 feet from the well.
Mold and post-flood cleanup
Mold is another risk of flood season that can crop up quickly; the fungus can begin to grow within 24 hours on items that came in contact with floodwater.
Items such as carpet and padding, linoleum or laminate flooring, drywall, upholstered or particleboard furniture and wallpaper should be thrown out if soaked with water, according to the MDH.
Hard surfaces such as stone, tile and concrete flooring or walls and metal, plastic or glass furniture can be cleaned. When cleaning up mold or potentially moldy areas, make sure to wear a mask, said Vicki Iocco of Goodhue County Health and Human Services.
After floods, most injuries - such as cuts - come from debris during cleanup, Iocco said, so those clearing the area should make sure to wear protective clothing such as sturdy boots.
Iocco also recommends making sure vaccinations are up-to-date before cleaning up after a flood.
"Even though the risk of tetanus during a flood isn't any higher, it's a good opportunity (for people) to think about when they had their last tetanus shot," Iocco said.
To prevent other household risks during a flood, MDH officials recommend moving these and any other hazardous materials to an area that is likely to stay dry: motor oil, gasoline, anti-freeze, cleaning chemicals including drain and toilet bowl cleaners, paint, pesticides and fertilizers.