Sunday, May 12, 2013

How can I protect my children after a flood?

May 12 2013 From the USEPA website

Children are different from adults. They may be more vulnerable to chemicals or organisms they are exposed to in the environment.
  • NEVER use portable generators indoors! Place generators outside and as far away from buildings as possible.
  • Clean smooth, hard surfaces such as metal and plastics with soap and water and dry thoroughly.
  • Carefully follow any directions from boil-water alerts. Tap water that has been brought to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute will kill disease-causing organisms. But remember, boiling will not remove or destroy many potentially harmful chemicals.

Contaminated Water

While all people need safe drinking water, it is especially important for children because they are more vulnerable to harm from contaminated water. If a water source may be contaminated with flood waters, children, pregnant women and nursing mothers should drink only bottled water, which should also be used to mix baby formula and for cooking. We also recommend you sponge bathe your children with warm bottled water until you are certain your tap water is safe to drink.
Your child may or may not show symptoms or become ill from swallowing small amounts of contaminated water. Symptoms can vary by contaminant. If your child drinks water contaminated with disease-causing organisms, he/she may come down with symptoms similar to the “stomach flu.” These include stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and may cause dehydration.

Some contaminants, such as pesticides and gasoline, may cause the water to smell and taste strange, and others such as lead and disease-causing organisms may not be detectable. Drinking water contaminated with chemicals such as lead or gasoline may not cause immediate symptoms or cause your child to become ill but could still potentially harm your child’s developing brain or immune system.

Because you cannot be sure if the water is safe until private wells are professionally tested or city water is certified as safe by local officials, we urge parents to take every precaution to make sure their child’s drinking water is safe.

If you have a flooded well, do NOT turn on the pump, and do NOT flush the well with water. Contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice on disinfecting your well.

Your public water system or local health agency will inform you if you need to boil water prior to using it for drinking and cooking.

Tap water that has been brought to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute will kill disease-causing organisms. Boiling will not remove many potentially harmful chemicals, and may actually increase concentrations of heavy metals (including lead), which can be harmful to a child’s developing immune system. Chemically treating tap water with either chlorine or iodine will kill many disease-causing organisms, but will not remove harmful chemicals or heavy metals.