DPH Urges Safety Precautions After Irma

Hurricane/tropical storm Irma is no longer a threat but recovering from the storm will take weeks, and even longer in some parts of the state. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging Georgians to use extreme caution particularly in the next few days as residents return to their homes, power is restored and damage assessments are made. The storm may be over, but that doesn’t mean the danger is.

Be careful near damaged buildings

  • Do not return to your home until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • Return during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off.
  • Do not enter your home if you are unsure of structural integrity.
  • Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, notify emergency authorities or the gas company immediately and leave the area.

Stay away from power lines

  • Stay clear of fallen power lines – be particularly careful of power lines that may be hidden in fallen trees and branches.
  • Watch out for power lines dangling overhead.
  • Report downed power lines to emergency authorities or the power company immediately.

Avoid floodwater

  • Always follow warnings about flooded roads.
  • Don’t drive through floodwater – it may be deeper than you think.
  • Keep in mind that floodwater often carries germs. If you touch it, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. If you don’t have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.
  • Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows.
  • Install battery-operated or battery backup CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home.

Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat

  • When in doubt, throw it out.


    • Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
    • Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for four hours or more.
  • Thawed food that contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. Freezers, if left unopened and full, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).
  • Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged.

Check water quality

  • Listen and follow all drinking water advisories and use bottled water when in doubt
  • Do not drink water from private wells that have/may have been flooded.
  • Disinfect all private wells that may have been flooded before drinking water.



Protect yourself from animals and pests

  • Floods can bring mosquitoes that carry disease – use insect repellent with DEET or Picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow label directions.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants and socks when you’re outside.
  • Stay away from wild or stray animals after a storm – call 911 or your local public health department to report them.

Prevent mold

  • Protect yourself by wearing gloves, masks and goggles.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings and paper products) within 24-48 hours.
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or floodwaters within 24-48 hours.
  • Ventilate by opening all doors and windows.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.

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