Tag Archives: recovery

Communicable Diseases and Floods

By DHEC Communications Staff

septic tank

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.

For more information, please visit the CDC website.

Get the Facts About Boiling Water

By DHEC Communications Staff

boil water

With many areas throughout the state currently under boil water advisories, here are some tips to keep your water safe.

Boiling Water for Drinking

  • Fill a pot with water.
  • Heat the water until bubbles come from the bottom of the pot to the top.
  • Once the water reaches a rolling boil, let it boil for 1 minute.
  • Turn off the heat source and let the water cool.
  • Pour the water into a clean container with a cover for storage.

Visit DHEC’s guide for home cooks and emergency guidelines for businesses.

For more information, please visit the EPA website or the American Public Health Association website.

Private Wells

Private wells can be impacted by flooding events – so please take precautions to ensure the water is safe to drink. If your well was affected by flooding, vigorously boil your water for at least one full minute prior to drinking or cooking, disinfect the well, and have your drinking water tested.

For step-by-step instructions, please click here.

Be careful: Before disinfection, check the condition of your well. Make sure there is no exposed or damaged wiring. If you notice any damage, call a professional before the disinfection process.

If you have a private well that was flooded during the recent flooding event, your well water could be contaminated. To ensure your private well water is safe to drink, you can have it tested for fecal coliform bacteria.

To help serve the need of those impacted by flooding across the state, several DHEC environmental offices will also be open for water test pick-ups and drop-offs on weekends from October 10, 2015 through November 1, 2015.

Learn more about testing and general information on DHEC’s private well information page.

Loss of Water / Low Water Pressure

If you lose water pressure or have low pressure, consider the following:

  • Limit the use of water for non-essential uses (use disposable plates and utensils and avoid washing clothes).
  • Flush toilets as little as possible or use a temporary toilet.
  • Use stored water to flush toilet – only when necessary (if using other water to flush, pour water from a pail directly into the bowl – and not into the tank). A pail of water from a non-sanitary source could be used if not dangerous to access.
  • If your water pressure returns, but may be intermittent, fill your bath tub for future toilet flushing.

Returning Home After the Floods

By DHEC Communications Staff


The hours and days immediately following a flood can be especially dangerous, and DHEC knows that you have many concerns about health and safety.

Flood waters and standing waters pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries. Flood water may contain sewage. These are reasons why it is important to avoid contact with flood waters.

Remember, you should not re-enter areas that were flooded until advised to do so by emergency officials.

Here are some general tips and resources for clean-up:

Clean-Up After the Flood

  • 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 the floodwaters have 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.

Smell Gas?

  • 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 during floods and may 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 mosquito 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.  For more information on how to protect yourself from bites, please visit DHEC’s website.

Find more resources for returning home and safety on DHEC’s website here.