As the wind from Hurricane Harvey weakens, forecasters say catastrophic flooding due to continued rain along much of coastal Texas remains likely. The Texas Department of State Health Services is issuing flood-related health information to minimize injury and illness due to the storm.
First and foremost, pay attention to local media for the latest from local leaders. They will provide information about conditions in your area and let you know when and where it is safe to move.
Listen for announcements about the safety of public drinking water. Follow “boil water” alerts that may be issued by water utilities or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Floodwater may contain bacteria, hazardous chemicals and dangerous debris, so avoid contact with it as much as possible.
Don’t run electrical generators inside your home, because carbon monoxide can build up and kill. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Additional food and water precautions are below, and you can find more disaster recovery advice at TexasPrepares.org.
• People under boil water alerts and those with private wells that may have been contaminated by floodwater should use only bottled, boiled or treated water until water has been tested and found safe.
• When boiling water for drinking, cooking and washing, bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute and then let it cool. If boiling isn’t possible, water can be disinfected with regular, unscented household bleach using one-eighth teaspoon, about eight drops, per gallon of water. Add the bleach, stir well and let stand for 30 minutes.
• Do not eat food that has been in contact with flood water.
• If electricity has been off, refrigerated food may have spoiled. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours or that has an unusual odor or color.
• Babies on formula should be given ready-to-feed formula or powdered formula prepared with bottled water.