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Floodwaters Pose Health Risk

From skim boarders to waders, young people often use flooded roads as playgrounds after bad storms. Here are five tips for staying safe.

Skim boarders, kayakers and folks just splashing around all seemed to have ventured out Sunday for a romp in the rain. Call it cabin fever — or just another weird Florida moment.

But be warned: Floodwaters also may pose serious health risks.

The waters are a problem when they contain fecal material, bacteria and viruses. And there is no sure way for the public to know if the flooded street or playground is safe.

Public health officials offer the following tips for staying and playing safe:

  1. Wash hands with soap and water after participating in flood cleanup activities or if you've splashed around in floodwaters.
  2. Avoid eating or drinking anything that has been contaminated with floodwaters.
  3. Do not wade through standing water. If you do, bathe and put on clean clothes as soon as possible.
  4. Avoid contact with floodwaters if you have open cuts or sores. If you have any open cuts or sores and cannot avoid contact with floodwaters, keep the wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
  5. Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup if there is a backflow of sewage into your house. Remove and discard absorbent household materials, such as wall coverings, cloth, rugs and sheetrock. Clean walls and hard-surfaced floors with soap and water, and disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water.

For information, contact the Pinellas County Health Department or visit www.doh.state.fl.us or www.FloridaDisaster.org.

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