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May 31, 2014 8:18 PM

Red Cross Urges Louisiana Residents to stay Safe During Floods

Lafayette, LA., Saturday, May 31, 2014 - In addition to those already heavily affected by this week's storms, residents in low-lying areas and elsewhere are facing flood watches and warnings this weekend, as well as additional worries.

Flood waters and standing water pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries.

"Residents also need to be on guard for insect and animal bites. Although water is receding in many locations, we know wildlife like snakes are making themselves visible, too," said Kay W. Wilkins, CEO for the Red Cross in South Louisiana. "We want residents to stay alert to their environment and keep a close eye on children outdoors."

As water conditions evolve, continue to listen to area radio and television stations. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.


If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, take the following precautions in a flood's aftermath:


Chemical Hazards

Be aware of potential chemical hazards during floods. Flood waters may have moved hazardous chemical containers of solvents or other industrial chemicals from their normal storage places.

Diseases

Eating or drinking anything contaminated by flood water can cause diarrheal disease. To protect yourself and your family:

· Practice good hygiene (handwashing) after contact with flood waters.

· Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.

· Wash children's hands frequently (always before meals).

· Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.

Drowning

Flood water poses drowning risks for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children. Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water.

Animal and Insect Bites

Flood waters can displace animals, insects and reptiles. To protect yourself and your family, be alert and avoid contact.

 

· Bees, wasps, ants and hornets may have had their nests disturbed by excessive wind and rain. These insects can become very aggressive. Before beginning clean up, survey the site to see if bees, wasps, or hornets are hovering in the area. If they are, use a commercially available pesticide to get rid of them before entering the area.

· Snakes also will have their nests disturbed during flooding. With less land for them to seekshelter, they are prone to enter abandoned homes, vehicles, furniture and equipment.

· Wild animals displaced from their natural habitats may seek shelter in places where they may be exposed to people. These animals may be infected with rabies. Avoid contact with wild animals such as raccoons, possums, squirrels, etc. Medical care should be sought after animal bites. Advice may be obtained from the Louisiana Office of Public Health 24 hour phone number (800) 256-2748.

Electrical Hazards

· Avoid downed power lines.

· Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.


Wound Infections

Open wounds and rashes exposed to flood waters can become infected. To protect yourself and your family,

· Avoid exposure to flood waters if you have an open wound.

· Cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage.

· Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water.

· If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.

 

Floods can occur anywhere, at any time, and cause more damage in the U.S. every year than any other weather-related disaster. The free American Red Cross flood app can help you understand and prepare, respond and recover from flooding. Download it directly from the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

 

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