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Posted on: June 15, 2017

Post-Storm Health and Safety Guidance

Portage Co. residents still experience risks to health & safety from power lines and trees down over roadways and on top of structures, flooded roadways, flooded buildings, and power outages. PCHHS offers Health & Safety Guidance for affected residents.

In an effort to minimize health complications during the cleanup and recovery efforts, Portage County Health and Human Service, Division of Public Health (PCHHS-DPH) suggests the following to keep residents and their families safe:

Food and Medication Safety
  • Throw away food that has been stored above 40°F for 2 hours or more, or comes in contact with storm water and is not in an airtight container. Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. 
  • Food that has come in contact with storm water and is in a sealed air-tight container may be usable if you remove paper labels and follow cleaning and sanitizing instructions for hard surfaces listed below.
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40°F or has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it. When in doubt throw it out.
  • Medications exposed to water, heat, or humidity may not be safe for use. Anyone having questions about the safety or storage of medicine should contact their pharmacist.
Protective Gear and Safety Tips to Prevent Illness
  • Storm water may contain bacteria, viruses, hazardous waste, debris and sharp objects. 
  • Wear rubber boots, gloves and eye protection during clean-up.
  • Do not eat, drink, chew gum/tobacco, or smoke while cleaning.
  • If injured, clean out open wounds and cuts with soap and clean water, cover with clean dry bandages, and contact a doctor if a wound gets red or swells or if you received your last tetanus vaccine more than 10 years ago.
Cleaning and sanitizing
  • Materials that have been in contact with storm or flood water for two or more days may have mold growth.
  • Remove items that soak up water and can’t be cleaned easily like leather, paper, and wood.
  • Open windows and doors to get fresh air in while you use bleach. Remember to never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.
  • Wash hard surfaces with soap and warm water, rinse with clean water, sanitize with a mixture of 1 cup unscented bleach and 5 gallons of clean water, allow to air dry.
Well water testing
Private well owners that are concerned that their well has been affected by floodwaters should assume that the well is contaminated, do not drink or bathe in contaminated well water and arrange for testing of the well by contacting PCHHS-DPH at 715-345-5350.

 Signs that a well may be contaminated include:
  • Floodwaters came into contact or ran over the top of a well. 
  • You notice changes in the taste, smell, or color of the water.
  • You have a shallow well and live near areas that have been flooded.
If you have questions or concerns, contact Portage County Health and Human Service at 715-345-5350.
See a Health & Safety Fact Sheet (pdf)
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City of Wonderful Water
City of Stevens Point, 1515 Strongs Ave., Stevens Point, WI 54481 | Phone 715-346-1569