Stay Safe after Hurricanes, Flooding
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Contact: Media Relations
Hurricanes can cause dangerous and destructive high winds, flooding, heavy rain, and storm surges. Keep your family safe after a hurricane has made landfall. There may be a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, downed power lines, and mold, among others. For tips on how to be safe after a hurricane: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/after.html. Below are a few key recommendations:
- Don’t go to the attic of your home. If the highest floor of your 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.
- As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- 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 your home after the storm.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites and reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area.
- Be prepared to cope with feelings of fear, grief and depression after a traumatic event.
- The Disaster Distress Helpline (disasterdistress.samhsa.govexternal icon) provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support. Call or text 1-800-985-5990 (TTY for deaf/hearing impaired: 1-800-846-8517).
Be safe if it floods
- Follow local flood watches, warnings and instructions.
- Get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, or washes.
- Return to your flooded home only after local authorities have told you it is safe to do so.
- If evacuation appears necessary, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve.
- Have your 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 may have come in contact with flood or storm water. Learn how to save undamaged food packages exposed to floodexternal icon
- Use bleach to clean mold off of hard things like floors, stoves, sinks, countertops, plates, and tools.
- 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.
Keep food safe
- To keep your food at safe temperatures the longest, avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer. Your 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 foodsafety.govexternal icon.
Keep pets safe
- 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; your pet may behave differently during a stressful situation.
- Exposure to weather, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put your 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: https://www.cdc.gov/features/petsanddisasters/index.html
Public Service Announcements
CDC has hurricane public service announcements (PSAs), including some in Spanish and American Sign Language:
- 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
- CDC Environmental Health Media Toolkit – Floods
- CDC Environmental Health Media Toolkit – Hurricanes
- NPHIC Flooding Communication Resourcesexternal icon
- NPHIC Carbon Monoxide Communication Resourcesexternal icon
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICESexternal icon