LAFAYETTE, La. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared guidance on how they say Louisiana residents can stay safe during and after Hurricane Delta.
Because the hurricane is making landfall during the COVID-19 pandemic and affecting areas impacted by earlier storms this season, the CDC says it’s even more important to remain vigilant to stay safe.
Stay out of floodwater
- Follow local flood watches, warnings and instructions.
- Avoid driving through flooded areas, especially when the water is moving quickly. As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Turn around, do not drown.
Stay safe during a power outage
- Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning after a disaster. Only use a portable generator outdoors in a dry area at least 20 feet away from doors, windows and vents. When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.
- Avoid downed power lines and never touch a fallen power line. Call the power company to report fallen power lines.
- Do not walk or drive through standing water if downed power lines are in the water.
Stay safe in a shelter
- Authorities are working to protect people from the spread of COVID-19 while sheltering this year by using hotel rooms or other non-congregate shelters when possible, and when necessary to use congregate shelters, taking steps to help keep people healthy.
- Follow the guidance of local public health or emergency management officials on when and where to shelter.
- If you may need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, bar or liquid soap, disinfectant wipes (if available) and two masks for each person. Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including CDC’s guidance on the potential shelters for your pets and service and therapy animals.
- If evacuating to the home of friends or family, consider if either of your households has someone who is at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults or people of any age who have underlying medical conditions. Make sure everyone knows what they can do to keep them safe from COVID-19.
- If evacuating to a home or a shelter, stay at least 6 feet from other people outside of your household and follow CDC COVID-19 preventive actions —wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and follow shelter policies for wearing masks. Avoid sharing food and drink with anyone if possible.
- Practice safe and germ-free diaper changing in emergency situations.
- Do not return home until authorities tell you it is safe.
Keep food and water safe
- After a flood or power outage, some food may not be safe to eat and must be thrown out.
- Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water; perishable foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages; and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells, and tastes normal. When in doubt, throw it out.
Throw away the following foods:
- Food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
- Perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 4 hours or more.
- Food not in packages or cans.
- Canned foods or food containers that are bulging, opened, or damaged, especially if the container spurts liquid or foam when you open it or the food inside is discolored, moldy, or smells bad.
- Packaged food: Any food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops and snap-open, home-canned foods because they cannot be disinfected, and food in cardboard containers, including juice/milk/baby formula boxes.
- After an emergency, it is safest to drink bottled water until you are certain that your water is free of contaminants and safe to drink.
- Always listen to reports from your state, local or tribal health officials for specific advice on water precautions in your area. Local officials can provide guidance on the safety of tap water use for personal hygiene (e.g., showering, brushing teeth, handwashing), preparing food, or making baby formula.
- If bottled water is not available, water contaminated with germs can be made safe to drink by boiling, adding disinfectants, or filtering.
- If you are a private well owner and suspect that your drinking water well may be contaminated, do not drink or use the water. Severe flooding can put drinking water wells at increased risk for contamination from flood water that may contain sewage.
Protect your mental health
- Dealing with disasters can cause stress and strong emotions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief, and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover.
- People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration page.
- If you or someone you know is having difficulty dealing with the disaster, call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990