Thanks to Blythe Bernhard and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for recalling all the risk of past floods that will certainly be at play during and after Harvey

  • After the cleanup, wash hands with soap and warm water that has been previously boiled. Clothes should be washed in hot water and detergent, separately from clothes that aren’t contaminated. Use a laundromat if the wastewater system in the area has been compromised.
  • Open wounds and rashes can be any entry point for infection if exposed to floodwater. Use waterproof bandages and thoroughly wash any areas exposed to floodwater. Health officials recommend updated vaccinations for tetanus and diphtheria for anyone exposed to raw sewage.
  • Raw sewage in floodwater can carry bacteria, viruses and parasites. Those that can cause intestinal illness or gastroenteritis include strains of E. coli, salmonella, shigella and enterovirus. The main symptom of these illnesses is diarrhea, and those at higher risk of developing severe disease are the youngest and oldest in the community and people with compromised immune systems.
  • After the water recedes, mold can become another health concern. Remove and throw away any drywall or insulation that has been touched by floodwater or sewage. Mattresses, carpets, carpet pads, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, pillows, books, paper products and anything else that can’t be washed and disinfected should be tossed out if they get wet.
  • Hard surfaces including flooring and countertops should be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and detergent. Any food that came in contact with floodwater must be discarded, even canned goods. All toys should be disinfected with a bleach solution.
  • People affected by flooding are also at risk of experiencing fear, anxiety and sadness. The American Psychiatric Association said anyone struggling with the emotions should seek professional help.