Heavy rain and winds are forecast for Sunday as Hurriance Irene continues on its path towards Connecticut. The combination of heavy rains and wind along with the fact that the ground is already saturated from past rainfall makes the situation ripe for flooding and power outages.
In anticipation of the storm, the following is a list of tips from various sources on what to do in the event of flooding or power outages:
Prepare a storm kit and keep it handy
- A storm kit should include include flashlights with spare batteries, a battery-operated radio or TV, first-aid kit and medications, canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated foods, a manual can opener, bottled water, baby or pet supplies (if needed).
Have a backup plan for life support equipment
- If you have life support equipment, you need a backup plan to cope with storm-related outages. That plan should include an alternate source of electric power such as a battery backup system, an uninterruptible power supply or a properly installed generator for the life support equipment, emergency telephone numbers (doctor, fire, police and ambulance), and a procedure to vacate your home during a prolonged outage.
Before a flood
- Know safety tips and build an emergency supply kit. Visit www.ready.gov for a disaster supply checklist and or www.weather.gov/floodsafety for flood safety tips and information from the National Weather Service.
- Have a family emergency plan in place. Plan and practice flood evacuation routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
- Move important objects and papers to a safe place. Store your valuables where they won’t get damaged.
During a flood
- Go to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
- Avoid areas already flooded, especially when water flows fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
- Never drive through flooded roadways. Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters and just two feet of moving water can sweep an SUV off the road.
After a flood
- Check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. If you suspect damage to water, gas, electric or sewer lines, contact authorities.
- Remove wet contents immediately. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and any other items holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. If any mold develops, throw the item away.
- Thoroughly dry out the building’s interior.
- Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by floodwaters or mudflows. Throw away food that has come into contact with floodwaters and boil water until authorities declare the water supply safe to drink.
How to keep food and water safe
- Make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0 °F, and the refrigerator is at or below 40 °F. In case of a power outage, the appliance thermometers will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer to help you determine if the food is safe.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out. If your normal water supply is contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also supply drinking water.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
- Purchase or make ice cubes in advance and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
- Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
- Make sure to have a supply of bottled water stored where it will be as safe as possible from flooding.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
- For infants, try to use prepared, canned baby formula that requires no added water. When using concentrated or powdered formulas, prepare with bottled water if the local water source is potentially contaminated.
- Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.
- If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
- If you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. • Add 1/8 teaspoon (or eight drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per each gallon of water. Stir it well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before you use it.
- If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths, or allow it to settle and then draw off the clear water for boiling.
- If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agricultural extension agent for specific advice.
- Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water.
- Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
- Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
How to know whether food is safe after power is restored
- If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
- Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than four hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 °F for two hours or more.
For more information and tips, visit www. ready.gov.