Safety is our first concern after every storm. According to the American Red Cross, electrocutions are the second-leading cause of death during and after floods. Duke Energy offers the following electrical safety guidelines when coping with flooding:
- If rising water threatens your home — or if you evacuate your home — turn off your power at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box.
- Electric current passes easily through water, so stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Don't drive over — and don't stand near — downed power lines.
- Never replace a fuse or touch a circuit breaker with wet hands, or while standing on a wet or damp surface.
- If your home or business is flooded, Duke Energy cannot reconnect power until the electrical system has been inspected by a licensed electrician. If there is damage, an electrician will need to make necessary repairs and obtain verification from your local building inspection authority before power can be restored.
CDC guidelines for flood preparation and safety
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following recommendations for preparing for, and responding to, flooding:
Before the flood
- Learn about your community's emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes and locations of emergency shelters.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Designate an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the main contact person in case your family is separated. Make sure everyone knows the name, address and phone number for this person.
- Post emergency phone numbers at every phone.
- Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the flood strikes. Turn off electrical power if there is standing water, fallen power lines or before you evacuate. Turn off gas and water supplies, too.
- Have immunization records handy or know when you last received a tetanus shot, in case you are wounded during or after a flood.
- Sanitize bathtubs and sinks using bleach and rinse them thoroughly; fill them and plastic bottles with clean water.
- Secure outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans.
- Fill your vehicle's gas tank.
- Put family pets somewhere safe. Emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
- Turn the thermostats on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.
Emergency supplies for your home
- Five gallons of water for each person
- A three- to five-day supply of nonperishable food
- A manual can opener
- A first-aid kit and handbook
- Prescription medicines
- A battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries
- Sleeping bags or extra blankets
- Iodine tablets or unscented household chlorine bleach, to purify water
- Baby food, prepared formula, diapers and other baby supplies
- Disposable cleaning cloths ("baby wipes")
- Personal hygiene supplies such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
- An emergency car kit with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher
- Rubber boots, sturdy shoes and waterproof gloves
- Insect repellent containing DEET
- Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected when preparing or eating food, after using the toilet, after participating in flood cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated with floodwater or sewage.
Making sure food is safe
- Do not eat food that may have come into contact with floodwater.
- For infants, use only prepared canned baby formula that requires no added water. Do not use powdered formulas.
- Thawed food can usually be eaten or refrozen if it is still "refrigerator cold" or if it contains ice crystals. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Discard any refrigerated or frozen food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food with an unusual odor, color or texture.
Making sure water is safe
- Listen for public announcements about the safety of your local water supply. Flooded private wells will need to be tested and disinfected after floodwaters recede. Questions about testing should be directed to your local or state health department.
- Safe drinking water includes bottled, boiled or treated water. Your state or local health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating drinking water in your area.
Handling animals and mosquitoes
- Wild animals will be forced from their natural habitats during floods, and domestic animals may be without homes. Take care to avoid these animals.
- Do not corner an animal. If an animal must be removed, contact your local animal control authorities.
- If you are bitten by any animal, seek immediate medical attention.
- If you are bitten by a snake, try to accurately identify the type of snake so that, if poisonous, the correct antivenin may be administered.
- Contact local or state health and agricultural officials for guidelines on disposal of dead animals.
- Protect yourself from mosquitoes – use screens on dwellings, wear long-sleeved and long-legged clothing, and apply insect repellents that contain DEET.