The Louisiana Department of Health advises all Louisiana residents to be aware of the dangers flood waters pose and to take all appropriate precautions.
Several storm-related deaths have already occurred in Louisiana. It is very important to exercise extreme caution around flood waters and when returning to a home that has been flooded.
Below are some useful guidelines and additional resources for all Louisianans regarding flooding, including information on where to get emergency updates.
What to Do if Your Community Experiences Flooding
Stay Out of Flood Water
- Flood water may be mixed with sewage or other dangerous contaminants. Shower or otherwise wash after coming in contact with floodwater. Wash clothes that come into contact with floodwater in hot, soapy water immediately afterward. Make sure children stay away from flood waters.
- Do not drive through flood water. Water only a few feet deep can cause a vehicle to float or stall.
- Flood water may also hide other dangers, such as exposed electrical wires or sharp objects. The safest course of action is to stay out of flood waters.
- Keep aware of your situation through local radio or TV broadcasts. Keep an eye out for boil advisories for public water or other public health alerts. A list of flood-related boil advisories can be found here. Follow the guidance of emergency authorities.
Take Extra Care Regarding Wildlife
- The threat posed by wild animals and insects may increase during times of flooding. Venomous snakes, alligators, leeches, ants and mosquitoes are all potentially threatening creatures that you may encounter during a flood.
Vaccinate Against Diseases
- If you are displaced from your home, you should contact your health care provider or the staff at your shelter to ask about vaccines.
- Residents who have experienced a cut or puncture wound should make sure they are up-to-date on their tetanus vaccines.
- All first responders should have an up-to-date tetanus vaccine. The Office of Public Health is currently working with local governments and shelters to provide these vaccines.
- Health care providers and shelter workers can contact the Immunization Program staff at (504) 838-5300 for additional guidance.
After the Flood
Cleaning Up and Mold
- If you are able to safely start cleanup of your home or business, remember the basic rule is, if you can see or smell mold, take steps to eliminate the excess moisture; then, clean up and remove the mold by using a non-ammonia soap or detergent and hot water or a commercial cleaner.
- Thoroughly scrub all contaminated surfaces (using a stiff brush to clean masonry walls) with the soap or detergent. To get best results, use a lot of cleaning solution.
- After cleaning, disinfect the surface with a mixture that includes one-fourth cup bleach per gallon of water. If the mold has already started to grow back, try a stronger solution: one-half gallon bleach in five gallons of water. Allow the bleach solution to dry naturally for a six- to eight-hour time period as extended surface contact is important.
- Never mix bleach with ammonia, the fumes are toxic. Wear eye protection, rubber gloves and a mask. Ventilate the working area by opening doors and windows and using fans.
- Always use a face mask when working in areas that have mold. Almost anyone who breathes enough mold spores will have an adverse reaction. These reactions can include tightening in the chest, flu-like symptoms or even more severe reactions.
If floodwater entered your home, you must clean and disinfect your home and any items that came into contact with floodwaters. Take precautions when doing so, especially if your home experienced a backup of sewage. Wear personal protective equipment. Porous items that absorbed flood waters, including drywall, carpets, upholstered furniture and curtains may need to be disposed of entirely or professionally cleaned.
Throw out any food that came into contact with flood waters, including canned goods.
For more information from the Department of Health on flood water safety or other emergency efforts, visit www.ldh.la.gov/emergency.
Additional resources are available from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness here.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.