Avoid Carbon Monoxide poisoning and other dangers after a storm makes landfall
For Immediate Release: Friday, September 14, 2018
Contact: Media Relations
Hurricanes can cause dangerous and destructive high winds, flooding, heavy rain, and storm surges. Carbon monoxide poisoning and driving through floodwaters cause injury and death after storms.
Follow these tips to keep yourself and your family safe during and immediately after Hurricane Florence:
Stay out of flood waters
- Follow local flood watches, warnings and instructions.
- 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. Turn around, do not drown.
Stay safe during a power outage
- 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. When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.
- In hot weather, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illness.
- Avoid downed power lines.
- NEVER touch a fallen power line. Call the power company to report fallen power lines.
- Do not walk or drive through standing water if downed power lines are in the water.
Stay safe in a shelter or in crowded living conditions
- Follow safe hygiene when in a shelter.
- Practice safe and germ-free diaper changing in emergency situations.
- Wash hands with soap and water to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.
- Do not return home until authorities tell you it is safe.
Keep food and water safe
Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells, and tastes normal. When in doubt, throw it out.
Throw away the following foods:
- Food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 4 hours or more.
- Food not in packages or cans.
- Canned foods or food containers that are bulging, opened, or damaged. Throw away the food if the container spurts liquid or foam when you open it or the food inside is discolored, is moldy, or smells bad.
- Packaged food: Throw away food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops, and snap-open, and home-canned foods because they cannot be disinfected. Throw away food in cardboard containers, including juice/milk/baby formula boxes.
- After an emergency, especially after flooding, drinking water may not be available or safe to drink.
- Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water. Your state, local, or tribal health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area.
- Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.
- CDC’s Hurricane Florence web page: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/hurricane-florence.html
- Disasters affect children differently than they do adults. Learn more about the unique needs of children during and after disasters: https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/before-during-after.html.
- If you have family or friends in the path of Hurricane Florence, share health and safety messages with them using our multimedia toolkit: How to Help Loved Ones in Hurricane-Affected Areas.
- Be prepared to cope with feelings of fear, grief and depression after a traumatic event. The Disaster Distress Helpline (disasterdistress.samhsa.gov) provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- CDC has hurricane public service announcements (PSAs), including some in Spanish (https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html) and American Sign Language (https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/psa/preparedness_asl.html).
- HHS’s Hurricane Florence web page: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/2018-Severe-Storms/Pages/default.aspx
- Page last reviewed: September 14, 2018
- Page last updated: September 14, 2018
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