Baton Rouge – With the announcement that St. Bernard residents will be given the opportunity to return to their residences this weekend, Dr. Fred Cerise, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, stresses that caution must be used.
“We are very concerned about the safety of anyone returning to the area at this time,” said Cerise.
Cerise said the elderly, children, people with health conditions -- particularly asthma, allergies or who are immune-compromised, should avoid returning.
People who choose to return should wear protective clothing including long pants and sleeves, gloves and masks (particularly in areas of dense indoor mold).
Tetanus shots will be available at the entrance checkpoint for those who have not had a tetanus shot within the past 10 years. No other immunizations are necessary for reentry.
Other precautions include: using mosquito spray, being aware of stray animals, drinking only bottled water and not eating food washed with anything other than bottled water. People should also exercise caution around buildings and homes where structural stability has not been assessed.
“Disease surveillance conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and LDH in New Orleans area has confirmed that unintentional injuries pose the greatest current health risk for those remaining in the area,” he said.
Health officials say the minimum precautions that should be followed are to:
- Use bottled water only
- Use restroom facilities BEFORE entering the parish
- Use protective equipment (gloves, proper footwear)
- Completely cover all existing wounds and scrapes
- Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Do not use machinery and be on the alert for any possible danger.