NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The risks posed by flooding are more than meets the eye.
Since Irene moved out of the area, many people have been wading through the water to return to their homes, however, experts warn flood waters potentially can contain a cocktail of hazardous substances.
They warn that the waters are infectious diseases and injuries waiting to happen since they could be filled with various chemicals including pesticides, paints, gasoline, and even raw sewage.
“A lot of people keep fairly toxic chemicals in their garage, in their basement,” Dr. Max Gomez said. “So any of that is going to be getting in to the flood water.”
Residents are advised to stay out of the flood waters whenever possible but Dr. Tina Tan, the Acting Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, says the first priority when cleaning up after the storm is self-protection.
Tan urges people to wear boots, protective clothing, gloves and goggles when entering a flooded zone.
Homeowners should also take preventative measures to keep mold from growing. This includes using fans and dehumidifiers and opening doors and windows to remove moisture. Items that may have soaked up the water and can’t be cleaned or dried should be taken out of the home and disposed of.
Food which may have come into contact with flood or storm water should also be thrown out.
Residents should also check and clean their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems before use.