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Here's how to stay safe and recover when your house floods

Meteorologist Tim Williams has your Tuesday Alert Day forecast 1/9/2024
Meteorologist Tim Williams has your Tuesday Alert Day forecast 1/9/2024 03:02

BALTIMORE (CNN/CBS) -- Dealing with a flooded home can present a torrent of challenges and feel overwhelming. 

Much of Maryland, including the Baltimore area, is bracing for a strong storm system expected to bring heavy windswept rain and the potential of flooding, river & stream flooding, coastal flooding, and damaging winds. 

"Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood," the Baltimore Office of Sustainability said. "Baltimore City has four major watersheds and receives both tidal and riverine flooding."

The Baltimore Office of Emergency Preparedness has a list of local and federal resources for residents dealing with a disaster. 

Here's how flood victims can stay safe, get help and take the first steps toward recovery:

Minimize the risk of electrocution

Flooded homes require additional precautions to prevent electrocution.

"If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, then go ahead and turn off the power," the CDC says.

"If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off. NEVER turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water."

In general, "Do not wade in flood water, which can contain dangerous pathogens that cause illnesses, debris, chemicals, waste and wildlife," the FEMA website says. "Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water."

Clean safely and beware of mold

"If your home has been flooded and has been closed up for several days, assume your home has mold," the CDC says.

"You need to completely dry everything, clean up the mold, and make sure you don't still have a moisture problem."

The CDC has a list of ways to eliminate and prevent mold growth, with or without electricity.

Mold can be cleaned by using a mixture of 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Don't use the bleach solution in an enclosed space - make sure doors or windows are open, the CDC says.

But anyone with a lung condition such as asthma or who is immunocompromised "should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled, even if they do not have an allergy to mold," the FEMA website says.

"Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work."

Any remaining floodwater can contain sewage and other hazards that can be difficult to see.

"Floodwater can contain dangerous bacteria from overflowing sewage and agricultural and industrial waste," the CDC says.

"While skin contact with floodwater doesn't pose a serious health risk by itself, eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater can cause diseases."

Make sure your food and water supplies are safe

Throw away any food that may have come into contact with floodwater or stormwater, perishable food that may have not been refrigerated properly and anything that does not look, smells or feels like it should.

If your area is under a boil water advisory, take that guidance seriously. If it's not possible to boil water, use bottled water.

But never use contaminated water - either suspected or confirmed - to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice or make baby formula.

CNN Newsource contributed to this report. 

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