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Flooding Cleanup: How to Stay Safe, Sickness-Free

JACKSON, MISS– The Mississippi Department of Health says if you’ve dealt with flooding in the last week, there are now health risks you have to keep in mind when cleaning up the damage. 

When cleaning, you’ll need to protect yourself. Wear protective clothing, good, closed-toe work shoes, and if the floodwater touched it, throw it out.

Any food, no matter how it is sealed, must be thrown out if it came in contact with flood waters. The health department says you can still use your cans, but they must be sanitized with one-quarter cup bleach to one gallon of water.

If you’re having to climb ladders or scaffolding, make sure it is secured. If you’re working with power tools and equipment, make sure you know exactly how to use it, and call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.

Flooding can cause mold, and mold can cause respiratory complications, especially if you already suffer from asthma, emphysema, or other health issues. Have a mask while you’re cleaning up molded areas, and if you’re unsure of how to properly dispose of mold, call in the professionals.

 If it has been more than 10 years, you’ll need to update your tetanus vaccination (Tdap is the recommended vaccine). If you cut or puncture yourself and get that cut wet in floodwater, you run the risk of infection. Tetanus vaccinations are available at all county health departments.

If your water comes from a private well, should have their private well inspected, disinfected and sampled in order to protect their health. For step-by-step instructions on disinfecting your private water well, visit the MSDH website at

Snakes are a big issue after flood waters start to recede. If you come in contact with a snake during cleanup efforts, do not attempt to catch or kill the snake. Slowly back away from the snake.

If you are bitten by a snake:

  • Do not attempt to cut, suck, or apply ice to the bite area.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Call 911 immediately.  Lay the person flat and keep the bitten part of the body at the level of the rest of the body.  Do not elevate or dangle a bitten arm or leg.


For more information on flood safety, visit Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at

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