from the Environmental Protection Agency newslist on aging [aging_initiativ] May, 2006 EPA Aging Initiative List Serve. Note that they are suggesting the use of “disinfecting” soaps, although by EPA’s own rules these soaps cannot be labelled as “disinfectants” and the active ingredient has not been demonstrated as any more effective than plain soap.

The City of Bethel has been providing copies of the Alaska state 2006 Spring Flood Breakup Guide available in pdf format here
http://www.ak-prepared.com/community_services/acrobat_docs/2006_SpringFloodBreakup_SOP.pdf.
It has some good recommendations for preparedness, few of which Bethel has implemented. A most important addition would be a topographic map of all the low-lying areas so newcomers would know when their roads would be cut-off.

EPA Urges Caution When Working in Areas Exposed to Contaminated Flood Water – Website Available with Flooding Information
http://www.epa.gov/aging/press/epanews/2006/2006_0517_1.htm
(Boston, Mass. – May 17, 2006) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is cautioning the public and all responders about the potential hazards associated with flood waters. Every effort should be made to limit contact with flood water due to potentially elevated levels of contamination associated with raw sewage and other hazardous substances.

EPA offers the following guidelines for those in contact with flood water:

– Wash your hands before drinking and eating
– Wash frequently using soap — especially disinfecting soap
– Do not smoke
– Limit direct contact with contaminated flood water
– Pay attention to any cuts or open wounds and limit exposure to flood water
– Pay attention to any unusual symptoms and report them to health care professionals
– Keep vaccinations current

The public and emergency response personnel should follow guidelines from federal, state and local health and safety professionals. Early symptoms from exposure to contaminated flood water may include upset stomach, intestinal problems, headache and other flu-like discomfort. Anyone experiencing these and any other problems should immediately seek medical attention.

General precautions to reduce contact with contaminated flood include routine washing with soap, and not eating or drinking while in contact with flood water. These precautions can significantly help reduce potential exposure and illness. Anyone with open-wounds or pre-existing conditions should seek immediate consultation to prevent possible illness.

If the public or responders are aware of oil spills or other potential contamination of flood waters by chemicals, call 1-800-424-8802. EPA has compiled other useful information on the web to assist individuals and municipalities address post-flooding clean up concerns. Issues include mold, septic systems, municipal water treatment plants, drinking water and food.
EPA’s website on floodwater: http://www.epa.gov/region1/topics/water/flooding.html
The three New England states affected by the flooding also have a great deal of useful information for both residents and responders.

Maine
Flood Hotline: 1-800-452-8735
Maine Emergency Management Agency: http://www.maine.gov/mema/
Maine information on wells inundated by flooding: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/eng/water/Templates/FloodEmergency.htm

Massachusetts
Flood Hotline: 1-800-293-4031
Mass Emergency Management Agency: http://www.mass.gov/ ?pageID=eopsagencylanding&L=3&L0=Home&L1=Public+Safety+Agencies&L2= Massachusetts+Emergency+Management+Agency&sid=Eeops


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