Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Health expert warns of post-flood hazards

Concerns include mold, contaminated water and mosquitoes

Express Staff Writer

Wood River Valley residents living in flood-impacted areas should be aware of the possibility for resulting mold growth and other post-flood health hazards, South Central District Health senior environmental health specialist Bob Erickson said Tuesday.

"Mold is always a concern," Erickson said.

During a recent drive through Hailey's flood-prone Della View neighborhood, Erickson saw evidence of post-flood recovery work by professional contractors already taking place.

"I saw Ree-Construction already at work," he said.

Drying out flooring and getting all remaining water out of basements and crawlspaces as quickly as possible should be the No. 1 goal for homeowners after a flood event, Erickson said.

"The key thing is to get things dried out," he said. "If you don't have moisture, you won't have mold."

Some people may be more susceptible to health issues related to mold regardless of their age, Erickson said.

People who come into contact with floodwaters should take proper precautions such as wearing rubber gloves and rubber boots or waders, Erickson said. Also, "it wouldn't be a bad idea to see if you need to get an updated tetanus shot."

Another post-flood concern is mosquitoes, he said. Homeowners should be cautious if they've had water standing in their yards for extended periods of time.

"Mosquitoes can start breeding in about four days time with standing water."

People should also be cautious when they're around floodwater because it may have become contaminated from septic tanks and other hazardous substances the water may have picked up, Erickson said. "If you're dealing with floodwater, you're dealing with contaminated water."

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