KDHE Issues Health and Safety Tips for Persons Affected by Storms

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is providing health and safety information to protect residents in the wake of Wednesday evening’s storms in central and northeast Kansas:

Heat-related illness: Follow these steps to minimize the risk of heat-related illness:

· Drink plenty of fluids; especially water. Avoid alcohol and
caffeinated beverages, which dehydrate the body. Drink at least a gallon of water a day when spending time outdoors.
· When working in the heat, wear sunscreen, sunglasses and loose,
light-colored clothing whenever possible. Take frequent breaks to cool off.
· Friends, relatives and neighbors of elderly people should
periodically visit them during the summer months and take them to a cooler environment if needed.
· Create airflow in hot indoor work areas, but be cautious when using
portable generators (see below).

How to Recognize Heat-related Illness:
Watch for signs such as faintness, dizziness, cramps, headache, chest pain and/or breathing problems. Heat stroke, the most severe form of heat related illness, is considered a medical emergency. Heat stroke is characterized by headache, hot and dry skin, temperature of 103 degrees or higher, rapid and shallow breathing, disorientation and changes in consciousness. The person should be cooled quickly with cold, wet sheets or a cool bath and taken to the nearest medical care facility.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning: Generators and gasoline engines are often used when there are power outages. CO is a poisonous gas is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by small gasoline engines, stoves, and generators. CO cannot be seen or smelled and can kill in minutes. Tips to avoid CO poisoning:

· Never run a generator or any gasoline-powered engine inside a
basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.

· Never run a motor vehicle, generator, or any gasoline-powered engine
within 20 feet outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.

How to Recognize CO Poisoning:
Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. If CO poisoning is suspected, seek medical attention right away.

Food Safety: KDHE recommends the following to protect against potential foodborne illness due to loss of electrical power that keeps foods
refrigerated:

· Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
· Refrigerators will keep food cold for about 4-6 hours if unopened.
· Refrigerated foods should be kept at 40F or below whenever possible.

When Power is Restored:
· If an appliance thermometer was kept in the unit, check the
temperature when the power comes back on. If the thermometer reads 40F or below, the food is safe and may be kept refrigerated. It is safe to refreeze the food, but the quality and flavor of the food may be affected.
· If a thermometer has not been kept in the unit, check each package of
food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook and use.
· Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no
more than 4-6 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
· Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or
leftovers) that has been above 40F for two hours or more.
· Remember: When in doubt, throw it out!

Boil Water Advisory: The City of Chapman’s water system suffered storm damage Wednesday night, resulting in a loss of pressure in the system.
Once water service is restored, customers should observe the following precautions until further notice:
· Boil water for one minute prior to drinking or food preparation, or
use bottled water.
· Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic
icemaker.
· Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at
least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.
· If your tap water appears dirty, flush the water lines by letting the
water run until it clears.

The advisory for Chapman will remain in effect until testing of water samples indicates no evidence of contamination and all other conditions which place the systems at risk of contamination are deemed by KDHE officials to be resolved. The city and/or KDHE will notify media when the boil water advisory has been rescinded.

Stream Advisory Issued for Smoky Hill River Below Chapman: KDHE has issued a stream advisory for the Smoky Hill River in Dickinson and Geary Counties.
This stream advisory applies the Smoky Hill River from Chapman and continues downstream to the confluence of the Smoky Hill River with the Republican River at Junction City.

The public and landowners along the Smoky Hill River are advised to avoid contact and to restrict pets and livestock from contact with the river until the extent of the impact from the release can be determined.

The wastewater treatment plant is not functioning as a result of tornado damage to the electrical system. Raw sewage will continue to flow into the Smoky Hill River until power is restored to the wastewater plant.

KDHE anticipates elevated levels of pathogens in this area of the Smoky Hill River as a result of the release. The stream advisory is in effect until Tuesday, June 17. KDHE will evaluate the need to further extend the advisory at that point in time.

General Safety Precautions: Here are some safety precautions that could help you avoid injury after a tornado:
· If possible, continue to monitor radio and television for emergency
information.
· Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
· Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves, and gloves when handling or
walking on or near debris.
· Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
· Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed
lines. Report electrical hazards to law enforcement or the utility company.
· Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to
light homes without electrical power. If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood, or other flammable items. Never leave a candle burning when you are out of the room or asleep.
· Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off
by the tornado, but stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency.
· Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
· Respond to requests for volunteer assistance by law enforcement,
firefighters, emergency management and relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless assistance has been requested. Your presence could hamper relief efforts, and you could endanger yourself.

Inspecting the Damage:
· After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical, or
gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.
· In general, if you suspect any damage to your home, shut off
electrical power, natural gas, and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution, or explosions.
· If it is dark when you are inspecting your home, use a flashlight
rather than a candle or torch to avoid the risk of fire or explosion in a damaged home.
· If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of
something burning, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you have not done so already.
· If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open
all windows, and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company, law enforcement or fire department and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to your house until you are told it is safe to do so.

Safety During Clean Up:
· Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves, and gloves.
· Learn proper safety procedures and operating instructions before
operating any gas-powered or electric-powered saws or tools.
· Allow safety personnel to oversee the clean up of
commercial/institutional food and drug supplies, flammable liquids, and other potentially hazardous materials.

Anxiety: Symptoms of anxiety may not appear for weeks or even months after a tornado; they can affect people of any age. If anxiety disrupts daily activities for any member of your family, seek professional assistance through a school counselor, community religious organization, your physician, or a licensed professional. Counselors are listed under Mental Health Services in the yellow pages of your telephone directory.


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