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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                    Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                                 Facebook    Twitter         Blog              
September 22, 2017                     EPA Today Facebook page Follow epatoday on Twitter EPA Today Blog Icon


US map showing Puerto Rican communities
       Map courtesy of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services issued critical health and safety information today for local communities following the devastating effects that Hurricane Marie had on Puerto Rico.

The department's health information came with a map of the U.S., which showed that there might be a significant number of residents in the Bay Area from Puerto Rico. So, the department is advising the public to share its key health recommendations with friends and relatives, with the hope of reaching those living in Puerto Rico and in other affected areas.

The recommendations include specific steps, which can also be followed during and after any natural emergency or disaster.

There is a warning about the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and a risk of danger from downed power lines, flood water, and mold, among other hazards. The public is warned to:

·     Avoid Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning after a disaster. Only use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area at least 20 feet away from doors, windows and vents that can allow CO to come indoors.

·     Avoid injuries when you return to your home after the storm.

·     Protect yourself from mosquito bites and reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area.

·     Take steps to cope with feelings of fear, grief and depression after a traumatic event.

·     Use the Disaster Distress Helpline (disasterdistress.samhsa.gov), which provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support. Call 1-800-985-5990 (TTY for deaf/hearing impaired: 1-800-846-8517) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

Be safe after flooding

·     Avoid driving through flooded areas, especially when the water is fast moving.

·     As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

·     Return to your flooded home only after local authorities have told you it is safe to do so.

·     Use bleach to clean mold off of hard things like floors, stoves, sinks, countertops, plates, and tools.

·     Dilute bleach to the proper concentration.

·     Throw out items that cannot be washed and cleaned with bleach, such as mattresses, pillows, carpeting, carpet padding, and stuffed toys.

·     Remove and throw out drywall and insulation contaminated with sewage or flood waters.

·    Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces, such as concrete, wood, and metal furniture, countertops, and appliances, with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.

Keep food safe

·    Throw away any food and bottled water that may have come in contact with flood or storm water. Learn how to save undamaged food packages exposed to flood.

·    When it comes to the safety of your food, when in doubt, throw it out.

·    Learn more at foodsafety.gov.

Use Safe Water
·     Listen for water advisories from local authorities to find out if your water is safe for drinking and bathing.

·     Keeping your hands clean during an emergency helps prevent the spread of germs. If your tap water is not safe to use, wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.

·     Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.

·     If you don’t have clean, safe, bottled water, boil water to make it safe. If boiling is not possible, you often can make water safer to drink by using a disinfectant, such as unscented household chlorine bleach, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets.

For additional tips on how you can help others to stary safe after a hurricane visit: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/after.html.