Avoid Floodwaters After the Storm

Floodwaters and Standing Water Can Be Hazardous

No matter how harmless it might appear, avoid wading or walking in floodwaters. All too often, danger lurks within and beneath floodwaters and standing water.

DHEC urges everyone to avoid area streams, rivers or the ocean for drinking, bathing or swimming due to the possibility of bacteria, waste water or other contaminants. Avoid wading through standing water due to the possibility of sharp objects, power lines or other hazardous debris that might be under the surface.

Follow these steps if you come into contact with floodwaters or standing waters:

  • Avoid or limit direct contact.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap, especially before drinking and eating.
  • Do not allow children to play in flood water or play with toys contaminated with floodwater.
  • Report cuts or open wounds, and report all symptoms of illness. Keep vaccinations current.

Turn_Around

NEVER drive through flooded roadways or around barricades. Road beds may be washed out under floodwaters. DON’T underestimate the force and power of fast-moving water. Flooding is the leading cause of severe weather-related deaths in the U.S. Most of these deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways.

Six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. And it only takes 12 to 18 inches of flowing water to carry away most vehicles including large SUVs. If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will likely not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. Play it smart, play it safe. Turn Around Don’t Drown. [FEMA]

Get more information on avoiding contact with floodwaters from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Also, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s page on risks associated with floodwaters and standing water.

 

Food Safety During and After a Storm

USDA Offers Food Safety Tips for Areas Affected by Hurricane Dorian

When hurricanes such as Dorian have significant impact on a state or region, they present the possibility of power outages and flooding that can compromise the safety of stored food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued food safety recommendations for those who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian. FSIS recommends consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during this and other severe weather events.

Steps to follow in advance of losing power:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a hurricane. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

Food safety after a flood:

  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water—this would include raw fruits and vegetables, cartons of milk or eggs.
  • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those packaged in plastic wrap or cardboard, or those with screw‐caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped caps. Flood waters can enter into any of these containers and contaminate the food inside. Also, discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home-canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
  • Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel‐type can opener.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety and Facebook.

FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

If you have questions about food safety during severe weather, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available in English and Spanish from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Answers to frequently asked question can also be found 24/7 at AskKaren.gov.

Carbon Monoxide Safety During and After a Storm

Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Power Outage

If your home experiences a power outage due to a hurricane, tornado or severe storm, be careful when using alternative power sources. Alternative power sources can cause dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) to build up and poison the people and animals inside.

Never run a generator inside a home, basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.

CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and die from breathing CO.

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends steps you can take to help protect yourself and your household from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months and learn the warning signs and symptoms of CO poisoning. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion

People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever presenting symptoms.

CO poisoning prevention tips

  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, call 911 immediately.

For more information, please visit the CDC’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning website and share these fact sheets on Carbon Monoxide and Generator Safety: English, Spanish.

Nearly 92% of Cancers Caused by HPV Could Be Prevented by Vaccine, CDC says

According to a new study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, an average of 43,999 HPV-associated cancers were reported nationwide each year from 2012-2016.  Among the estimated 34,800 cancers most likely caused by HPV, 92 percent can be attributed to the HPV types that are included in the HPV vaccine and could have been prevented if HPV vaccine recommendations were followed.

HPV, also known as human papillomavirus, is a common virus that can lead to six types of cancers later in life. HPV infections are so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.

CDC recommends all boys and girls get two doses of the HPV vaccine at ages 11 or 12. Children who get the first dose before their 15th birthday only need two doses. Children who get the first dose on or after their 15th birthday need three doses. The HPV vaccine is recommended for young adults up to age 26 if they didn’t get the vaccine as a teen.

According to the 2018 SC Health Assessment , South Carolina ranks in the lowest quartile nationally for adolescents having received one or more doses of the HPV vaccine. Talk to your child’s health care provider about getting the three recommended preteen vaccines, Tdap, HPV and meningitis vaccines.  DHEC’s public health clinics also offer all teen vaccines.

For more information about CDC’s findings, visit  cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0822-cancer-prevented-vaccine.html. To make your child an appointment at DHEC to receive the HPV vaccine and other recommended vaccines, visit https://scdhec.gov/health/health-public-health-clinics.

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day is held every year on August 31, as a day to create awareness about overdose and drug-related death. The day also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends who have experienced the death of a loved one due to overdose.

Would you be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose?

According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, signs of an overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unresponsive to outside stimulus
  • Awake, but unable to talk
  • Breathing is very slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped
  • Choking sounds, or a snore-like gurgling noise (sometimes called the “death rattle”)
  • Vomiting
  • Skin complexion changes (bluish purple for lighter skinned people and grayish or ashen for darker skinned people)
  • Face is very pale or clammy
  • Body is very limp
  • Fingernails and lips turn blue or purplish black
  • Pulse (heartbeat) is slow, erratic, or not there at all

What can you do if someone is suffering from an overdose?

Call 911 immediately. Emergency response personnel can save someone from overdosing by administering a dose of Naloxone. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, can be used to prevent and reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone is a safe medication that counteracts the effects of an overdose. If a person is not suffering from an opioid overdose, the medication will not affect them.

After the South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act became law in 2015, DHEC, in collaboration with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office and South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS), created the Law Enforcement Officer Naloxone (LEON) program, which focuses on law enforcement officers who are frequently the first emergency responders to arrive on scene and response time is critical to saving lives. LEON’s goal is to provide comprehensive training to law enforcement agencies across South Carolina that focus on identification, treatment and reporting of drug overdoses attributed to opioids.

Learn more about how you can prevent an opioid overdose and about treatment resources in your area by visiting the DAODASwebsite at www.daodas.sc.gov.