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Press Release

For Immediate Release
September 3, 2004
Contact: CDC Media Relations

CDC Offers Advice for People to Protect Themselves During and After a Hurricane

As people brace for the impact of Hurricane Frances, they must also prepare for the threats that the storm may leave behind. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers advice to help people protect themselves from illness, injury, and death during and after a storm.

As the storm approaches, people should gather emergency supplies including food, water and prescription medicines, and prepare to evacuate. Once the storm has passed, immediate concerns include food and water safety, structural safety, utility and fire hazards, carbon monoxide hazards, cleanup activities, and protection from mosquitoes. People can help protect themselves and their families by following these CDC guidelines:

  • Learn about your community's emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
  • Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the hurricane strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before evacuation. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate.
  • Inform local authorities about any special needs, i.e., elderly or bedridden people or anyone with a disability.
  • Do not drive through flooded roads. Cars can be swept away or break down.
  • Listen to announcements in local media (radio, TV, or newspaper) to find out if it's safe to use tap water. Follow the instructions given for using water.
  • If you do not know whether the water is safe to use, boil water before you use it for anything (brushing teeth, cooking, drinking or bathing).
  • Throw away any food that may have been touched by flood water or may be unsafe to eat because of power loss.
  • Use canned baby formulas that are ready-to-use (you don't have to add anything to them). Do not prepare infant formulas with water that has been treated with chemicals.
  • Be aware of possible structural, electrical, or gas-leak hazards as you return to and begin cleaning homes or other buildings.
  • To prevent growth of some bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew that can cause illness, disinfect and dry out buildings and the items in them.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns and flashlights instead of candles.
  • Some small engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, gas ranges put off carbon monoxide gas and should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Burning charcoal and wood may also emit dangerous fumes.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes: wear long-sleeved and long-legged clothing, and use insect repellents that contain DEET.

CDC has expanded its website to include detailed information on hurricanes, floods, and lingering dangers for the affected communities. More information is available at Residents may also contact their local health authorities for additional guidelines, notifications and information.

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This page last updated September 3, 2004

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