State of Wisconsin
Department of Health Services
Scott Walker, Governor
Kitty Rhoades, Secretary
Protecting and promoting the health and safety of the people of
For Immediate Release Contact: Jennifer Miller
June 19, 2014 (608) 266-1683
STATE AGENCIES URGE CAUTION DURING STORM
AND FLOOD CLEANUP
MADISON—The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and
Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) are urging residents and crews
to use caution while assessing damage or removing debris after
Downed power lines, broken glass, and exposed nails are some of the
dangers people can encounter while assessing damage or cleaning up
after a storm. Residents should also avoid entering any structure
that has been damaged until it has been checked by their gas and
electric utility and a licensed contractor or building inspector to
make sure it is safe for re-entry.
Other ways to avoid injury during cleanup include:
- Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling
or walking on or near debris.
-In general, if you suspect any damage to your home, even if the
damage isn’t readily apparent, shut off electrical power, natural
gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution, or explosions.
- If the power is out, use battery-powered lanterns to light homes
rather than candles. Candles could trigger an explosion if there is
a gas leak.
- Never use gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning
devices like camp stoves or generators inside the home, or even
outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide from
these sources can build up and cause illness or death.
Even with so much to think about, it’s also a good time for people
to make sure tetanus shots are up-to-date. Tetanus is caused by
bacteria and often enters the body through puncture wounds, like
those caused by nails.
Besides tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, another risk is heavy
rains leading to flooding. Health and safety risks abound during the
flood and afterward.
To avoid injury or death during a flood:
-Move to higher ground, especially if the threat is imminent. Don’t
wait for instructions to move.
-If you must evacuate, first secure your home and turn off utilities
at main switches or valves.
-Disconnect electrical appliances, but do NOT touch electrical
equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
-Do not walk through moving water.
-Do not drive in flooded areas.
To avoid injury after a flood:
-Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
-Avoid driving or walking through areas that were flooded.
Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
-Use extreme caution when entering buildings as there may be hidden
damage, particularly to foundations.
Once flood cleanup begins, remember that water damage can often lead
to unhealthy mold growth within days after floodwaters have receded.
It is wise to consult a professional with flood cleanup experience
to assess how serious a mold problem is, and the best way to remove
Private well owners whose well has been submerged by floodwaters
should wait until floodwaters recede before testing the well for
contamination. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
provides guidance on how to cope with a flooded well:
Finally, keep food safety in mind. Refrigerated and frozen foods
should be inspected, especially if there was a power outage. Check
the smell and appearance of all meats, seafood, milk, produce and
leftovers and “when in doubt, throw it out.” Also, any food that was
touched by floodwaters – even if it was stored in a waterproof
container – should be thrown out.
For more information about weather-related health and safety, visit:
For more information about severe weather and other emergency