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DHS news release

Dec. 6, 2007

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282

Health officials offer safety tips to people returning to flood and wind-damaged areas


Public health officials remind people to be mindful of safety as they return to flood and wind-damaged home to assess damages and make repairs.


“It’s important for people to be aware of safety issues as they return to evacuated buildings and begin clean-up activities,” said Susan Allan, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., state public health director in the Oregon Department of Human Services.


Flood water may contain debris, sewage, dirt, oil or other potentially hazardous materials. To avoid harm, Allan advises:

  • Always wash hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before preparing or eating food, after using the toilet and after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage.
  • Be watchful for and stay away from downed power lines, or broken and hanging tree limbs.
  • Be careful when working around fallen trees. They can shift suddenly and may be concealing additional hazards underneath.  Consult trained professionals for safe assistance.
  • Use caution when re-entering buildings that have been flooded, due to potential structural damage. Broken glass may be concealed in debris and mud or scattered in places not easily seen.
  • Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves when removing mud and other flood debris.
  • Be aware that electricity may still be turned on and wet surfaces create a risk of electrocution. Additionally, do not turn on an electrical system that has been flooded.
  • If the building has shifted and is supplied with natural gas, check for possible gas leaks. If there is a leak, evaluate the area immediately and contact emergency officials.