REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — San Mateo County’s health officials are outlining steps to take if your home or property becomes flooded during this week’s atmospheric river-powered rainstorm.

“County Health urges residents to take precautions to protect themselves and their families. Floodwater may contain raw sewage, animal waste, toxic substances, chemical compounds, fungus, bacteria, and other harmful materials. Storm debris and the effects of power outages may present additional hazards,” officials wrote.

Careless cleanup can do more harm than good by distributing fungus and bacteria, which can grow on wet materials to other areas of your home, as well as into heating and ventilation systems, health officials warned.

“We are urging all residents to stay home, avoid driving, ensure your family and elders are safe, and to be prepared for the absolute worse,” County Supervisor David Canepa said.

HEALTH & SAFETY GUIDELINES FROM THE COUNTY OF SAN MATEO:

  • Wear boots and gloves when working in areas that have been flooded.
  • Be sure the main electrical switch is off before entering a flooded structure. Do not turn it back on until you are certain there has been no damage to wires or appliances connected to the electrical system.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, call 911. Then call PG&E at (800) 743-5000. Warn your neighbors of the potential problem.
  • If you have open cuts or sores, protect them from the water. Keep them clean by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Keep children and pets away from floodwaters and avoid outdoor areas that have been recently flooded. Remove shoes and wipe paws before returning indoors.
  • Don’t let children play with toys that have been in contact with floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. You can disinfect toys using a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • If you swallow floodwater, you should see a physician immediately because of the risk of hepatitis A infection.
  • If you are uncertain about the quality of drinking water, use bottled water. Check with your local water provider for any boil water orders. If you have a domestic well, it may require disinfection if it was impacted by floodwaters.
  • For general disinfection of surfaces, use a cloth soaked with 1 tablespoon of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • Contact your local sewer authority if solid waste from sewage is visible.
  • Contact your insurance company for additional guidance if your home sustained water damage.

BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES

  • Clean walls, hard surfaced floors and other surfaces with soap and water. Disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach added to one gallon of water. Be especially careful to disinfect areas where food is stored or prepared, such as countertops, pantry shelves, refrigerator walls, and shelves.
  • Prevent water outdoors from reentering your home. Rainwater from gutters or the roof should drain away from the house; the ground around the house should slope away from the house to keep basements and crawl spaces dry.
  • Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture. Fans should be placed at a window or door to blow the air outwards rather than inwards, so as not to spread the mold.
  • Thoroughly wash and disinfect all dishes, utensils, and food preparation equipment.
  • Steam clean any carpeting that can be saved.
  • Ensure that crawl spaces beneath structures and spaces beneath living units have proper drainage to limit standing water. Ventilate to allow the area to dry out.
  • Contact your insurance company for additional guidance if your home sustained water damage.