Want to know a simple, effective, painless way to protect yourself and others and put a stop to the spread of germs? Wash your hands.
Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and keep from spreading germs to others. It is particularly important to wash your hands at appropriate times before, during and after preparing food, after using the toilet and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
It’s flu season. While getting the annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s also important to wash your hands. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
If clean, running water is not accessible, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.
Visit the CDC’s website for more information on handwashing.
The [Minority AIDS Council] will be sponsoring a community forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Orangeburg. The program’s topic will be “Shining a Light on HIV/AIDS in the Tri-County.”
A discussion panel will include Shiheda Furse, community manager at HopeHealth, which provides outpatient treatment and care for people with HIV/AIDS living in the tri-county region; MAC member and HIV advocate Pat Kelly and the Rev. Todd A. Brown, pastor of New Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Wilhemina Dixon, a Barnwell County woman whose story of resilience after both her daughter and her granddaughter were diagnosed with AIDS became the subject of a PBS documentary, will also be a panelist.
Brown said he hopes the forum will bring about change, particularly within the African-American community, where HIV/AIDS infection rates are the highest.
Worried about the water in a nearby river? You can do something about it.
Adopt-A-Stream is looking for volunteers to document river conditions monthly and alert regulators of changing water quality or illegal discharges. Volunteers will be trained in classes and given a website to work from.
They will collect visual, chemical, bacteria and macroinvertebrate samples. Macroinvertebrates are creatures without backbones, including bugs, mollusks and crustaceans.
Although Hurricane Matthew has moved on, it left behind potential dangers South Carolinians must avoid. In the days immediately following a hurricane, serious concerns often remain about flooding, power outages, and health and safety.
DHEC urges you to take precautions as you encounter potential dangers relating to water safety, food safety, animals and insects and a variety of other concerns.
Some people might not be able to return home immediately. Do not attempt to re-enter your neighborhood until authorities have declared the area safe.
We want you to return home safely. Here are some general tips and resources for clean-up when you do:
Clean-Up After the Hurricane
Throw away any toys that have touched floodwater.
During clean-up, wear gloves and regularly wash hands in clean water (boiled if from private well or under a boil water advisory/notice) with soap.
Once all water has been drained from your home, if you are concerned about water damage or mold, call a professional in your area. See the Yellow Pages under Mold Remediation or Water Damage Restoration.
You can make a cleaning disinfectant from one cup of bleach combined with five gallons of clean, boiled water. Try to clean any walls, floors or furniture that may have had contact with floodwaters.
Upholstered furniture and mattresses should be air dried in the sun and sprayed with disinfectant, if possible. Steam clean rugs and replace filters in ventilation systems. Flooded items that cannot be cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded.
If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main valve, open all windows, and get out of the house immediately.
Do not turn on the electricity, light matches, smoke or do anything that could cause a spark.
Immediately notify the gas company as well as your local fire and police departments.
Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
Handling Electrical Damage
If you see frayed wiring or sparks when you restore power, or if there is an odor of something burning but no visible fire, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker.
You should follow the instruction provided by your utility company or emergency preparedness agency about using electrical equipment, including power generators. Be aware that it is against the law and a violation of electrical codes to connect generators to your home’s electrical circuits without the approved, automatic-interrupt devices.
If a generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard. In addition, the improper connection of a generator to your home’s electrical circuits may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area. Make sure all electrical equipment and appliances are completely dry before returning them to service. It is advisable to have a certified electrician check these items if there is any question.
Protect yourself against mosquitoes that show up heavy rain and might carry viruses: Wear long-sleeved clothing and avoid being outdoors during dusk and dawn. If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, applying a mosquito repellent – either a spray or wipe – to your skin or clothing will help protect you from bites. Just make sure to use products containing one of the four active ingredients that have been registered and approved as safe and effective by the EPA.
By DHEC Communications Staff Whenever the water table is high or your sewage system is threatened by flooding, there is a risk that sewage will back up into your home. The only way to prevent this backup is to relieve pressure on the system by using it less.
Do I pump my tank during flooded or saturated drainfield conditions?
No! At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution. Under worst conditions, pumping it out could cause the tank to try to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes. The best solution is to plug all drains in the basement and drastically reduce water use in the house.
What are some suggestions offered by experts for homeowners with flooded septic systems?
Locate any electrical or mechanical devices the system may have that could be flooded to avoid contact with them until they are dry and clean.
Do not dig into the tank or drainfield area while the soil is still wet or flooded. Try to avoid any work on or around the disposal field with heavy machinery while the soil is still wet. These activities will ruin the soil conductivity.
Prevent silt from entering septic systems that have pump chambers. When the pump chambers are flooded, silt has a tendency to settle in the chambers and will clog the drainfield if it is not removed.
Use common sense. If possible, don’t use the system if the soil is saturated and flooded. The wastewater will not be treated and will become a source of pollution. Conserve water as much as possible while the system restores itself and the water table falls.
Do not open the septic tank for pumping while the soil is still saturated. Mud and silt may enter the tank and end up in the drainfield. Furthermore, pumping out a tank that is in saturated soil may cause it to “pop out” of the ground. (Likewise, recently installed systems may “pop out” of the ground more readily than older systems because the soil has not had enough time to settle and compact.)
Flooding of the septic tank will have lifted the floating crust of fats and grease in the septic tank. Some of this scum may have floated and/or partially plugged the outlet tee. If the septic system backs up into the house check the tank first for outlet blockage. Clean up any floodwater in the house without dumping it into the sink or toilet and allow enough time for the water to recede. Floodwaters from the house that are passed through or pumped through the septic tank will cause higher flows through the system. This may cause solids to transfer from the septic tank to the drainfield and will cause clogging.
Aerobic plants, upflow filters, trickling filters, and other media filters have a tendency to clog due to mud and sediment. These systems will need to be washed and raked.
What if my septic system has been used to dispose wastewater from my business (either a home-based or small business)?
In addition to raw sewage, small businesses may use their septic system to dispose of wastewater containing chemicals. If your septic system that receives chemicals backs up into a basement or drainfield, take extra precautions to prevent skin, eye and inhalation contact. The proper clean-up depends of what chemicals are found in the wastewater. Contact DHEC or EPA for specific clean-up information.
What do I do with my septic system after the flood?
If your septic tank has overflowed, visible solids should be disinfected with lime and cleaned up. Be sure to wash your hands throughly when finished.
Once floodwaters have receded, there are several things homeowners should remember:
Boil water before drinking until you have disinfected and tested your well. Contact DHEC.
Do not use the sewage system until water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house.
Have your septic tank professionally inspected and serviced if you suspect damage. Signs of damage include settling or an inability to accept water. Most septic tanks are not damaged by flooding since they are below ground and completely covered. However, septic tanks and pump chambers can fill with silt and debris, and must be professionally cleaned. If the soil absorption field is clogged with silt, a new system may have to be installed.
Only trained specialists should clean or repair septic tanks because tanks may contain dangerous gases. Contact DHEC for a list of septic system contractors who work in your area.
If sewage has backed up into the basement, clean the area and disinfect the floor. Use a chlorine solution of a half cup of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water to disinfect the area thoroughly.
Pump the septic system as soon as possible after the flood. Be sure to pump both the tank and lift station. This will remove silt and debris that may have washed into the system. Do not pump the tank during flooded or saturated drainfield conditions. At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution. Under worst conditions, pumping it out could cause the tank to try to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes.
Do not compact the soil over the soil absorption field by driving or operating equipment in the area. Saturated soil is especially susceptible to compaction, which can reduce the soil absorption field’s ability to treat wastewater and lead to system failure.
Examine all electrical connections for damage before restoring electricity.
Be sure the septic tank’s manhole cover is secure and that inspection ports have not been blocked or damaged.
Check the vegetation over your septic tank and soil absorption field. Repair erosion damage and sod or reseed areas as necessary to provide turf grass cover.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reminds all storm-affected residents that a tetanus vaccination is recommended if it’s been 10 years or more since your last tetanus vaccination or you have experienced an injury and your shot is more than five years old. For those who require a tetanus vaccination, there will be no-cost Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccination clinics this weekend. For information about locations, please click here.
Outbreaks of communicable diseases after floods are unusual. However, the rates of diseases that were present before a flood may increase because of decreased sanitation or overcrowding among displaced persons. Increases in infectious diseases that were not present in the community before the flood are not usually a problem. It is important to follow proper hygiene and clean-up processes.
The process of cleaning up and rebuilding from natural disasters like a flood can lead to injuries. For this reason, anyone who is working to clean up after this event should be sure that they are up-to-date with tetanus vaccination, ideally before starting cleanup activities.
First aid, even for minor cuts and burns, is very important during flood clean-up. If possible, immediately clean all wounds and cuts with soap and clean water. If you receive a puncture wound or any wound that could be contaminated and you are not up to date on tetanus vaccine, seek medical attention from a doctor or other health care professional. A health care provider will determine if you need additional preventive treatments, including tetanus vaccine. Your local DHEC health department can also provide the tetanus vaccine as prevention, but if you need medical attention for a wound, you should seek care from a health care provider, urgent care or emergency department.