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The health unit wants people to stay out of their flooded homes if they can.
As recovery efforts get underway, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit says public health from contaminated areas and homes is a concern.
“It concerns me greatly. I don’t think they should be in there. There’s risk of electrocution, there’s risks of slipping on the steps and drowning. You’ve got five feet of water in peoples’ basements so if they’re trying to remediate while they haven’t pumped out yet that’s of great concern,” health unit environmental health programs manager Christopher Beveridge said.
“They’re putting themselves at risk is the way I see it to fix their property. I understand why but they are taking a risk.”
“People really need to monitor their own level of health and if they are feeling ill to go seek medical assistance and also to prevent their illness by taking precautions by not getting involved in any cleanup.”
Instead, people should be taking advantage of the shelter at Neebing Arena Beveridge said. There have been no reports to the health unit so far from flood related illnesses but that doesn’t mean there won’t be. Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms after coming into contact with flood water or sewage.
“All of our disease surveillance has not indicated an increase in emergency room visits,” Beveridge said.
If people do choose to clean up their homes, the health unit says rubber boots, gloves and goggles should be worn at all times. Once flood water and sewage are removed, damaged materials should be taken out while still wet. Wounds and sores should also not come into contact with any flood water.
“To avoid any airborne stirring up of dusts and things like that once those materials start to dry,” Beveridge said.
Hard surfaces should then be washed with hot soapy water before being disinfected with one cup of bleach per bucket of water. Fans or dehumidifiers also need to be used to prevent mold.
For rural residence, the health unit says well testing should only begin after water levels have returned to normal and the well has been disinfected. Sample bottles, which are available at the health unit as well as the Oliver-Paipoonge and Conmee community centres, can be dropped off at the public health lab on Syndicate Avenue.
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