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Stay Healthy

Washing Hands

Know how to stay healthy and where to find help in an emergency.

The Basics

  • Do NOT hesitate when given an evacuate order by state and local officials.
  • Listen for and follow water advisories from local authorities. Use ONLY bottled, boiled, or treated water to prepare food, wash your hands, clean feeding bottles, mix baby formula, or reconstitute a prescription drug.
  • Listen to state and local public health departments for vaccination and personal protection recommendations after an emergency.

Quick Tips

  • Keep wounds clean and covered with a waterproof bandage around floodwater to reduce the chance of infection. Floodwater can spread bacteria such as tetanus and Vibro vulnificus and diseases like leptospirosis.
  • Do NOT share prescription drugs. Doctors prescribe and dose medications with a person’s particular illness, drug interactions, and medical history in mind.
  • Use bottled water to reconstitute prescription drugs if clean tap water is unavailable. Unopened commercially bottled water is the safest and most reliable source of water in an emergency.
  • If a life depends on the refrigerated drug, but the medications have been at room temperature, use them only until a new supply is available. Replace all refrigerated drugs as soon as possible.
  • Take health-related personal items such as prescription medications and medical supplies with you in an evacuation. Do NOT assume an evacuation shelter can provide for your unique health needs.
  • Double-check the setting on your medical device(s) after a power outage. An outage can cause medical devices to reset to their default or factory settings.
  • Discard any food, water, or medicine that may have touched floodwater.
  • Use generators outside and at least 20 feet from windows, doors, and vents to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Wash your hands to prevent the spread of disease after a flood. Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty, and do not eliminate all types of germs.
  • Dialysis patients: Follow a 3-Day Emergency Diet to limit the buildup of water, protein wastes, and potassium if you are on dialysis but cannot get treatments.
  • Identify emergency departments, urgent cares, dialysis centers, hemophilia treatment centers, veterinarians, etc. near your home and emergency meeting places, and along your designated evacuation route.
  • Register with your local government if you may need evacuation assistance in an emergency because of a lack of transportation, or a medical or mobility issue.
  • Contact your water and power companies to get on a “priority reconnection service” list of power-dependent customers if you rely on electrical medical equipment.
  • Make an asthma management plan that describes your daily treatment, how to control asthma long term, and ways to handle asthma attacks in an emergency.


Americans with Disabilities

More than 56 million Americans—19 percent of the population—live with some form of disability. Of those who self-report a disability, half say they have trouble walking and climbing stairs. Either issue could make it difficult to evacuate in an emergency. People with mobility disabilities can take the following steps to prepare for an emergency evacuation:

  • Form a personal support network of family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who can help you create communication and transportation plans in case of an evacuation
  • Assess your evacuation needs and capabilities. Pre-identify two escape routes out of every room and two evacuation routes from home and work.
  • Contact your local fire department and emergency management office to self-identify as someone who needs transportation assistance in an evacuation.