Protecting your health during flood damage cleanup

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The recent heavy rains have left some Sioux Falls residents with plenty of cleanup on their flooded properties. With people starting to clean up and repair their homes, the Sioux Falls Health Department would like to offer simple precautions to help protect the health and safety of flooded property owners.

• Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.
• Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area. Also try and limit skin exposure to the flood water and cleaning chemicals by wearing long sleeves and pants.
• Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected. These include mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products.
• Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with flood waters. Mold is the biggest health risk and thrives in moisture rich environments. Prolonged mold exposure is a risk to any person, but infants and the elderly are most at risk for health complications.
• Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
• Help the drying process by using fans, air-conditioning units, and dehumidifiers if possible.
• After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water.
• Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. Discard any food that was not in a waterproof container. Undamaged commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the can label, wash the can and then disinfect it with a solution of bleach water. Relabel the cans, including expiration date with a marker.
• Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent.
• Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.