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Hurricane Sandy Health Information

Generator Safety


  • Always read manufactures instructions on any generator and follow them completely. They explain how to run the equipment safely including
    1. Safety precaution
    2. How to run unit appropriately
    3. How to cool the unit off
    4. How to fuel safely
    5. What extension cords to be used safely

Gasoline Generators produce Carbon Monoxide!
  • Generators must always be used outside, NEVER inside, including in the garage, even with doors and windows open.  Carbon Monoxide gas is a by-product that is odorless, tasteless, with no fumes to alert us. Build-up of CO requires a fire department fan and equipment to remove. Open windows and doors will not be effective
  • Do not leave gasoline can next to generator
  • Monitor generator frequently, turn off when not in use
  • ALWAYS have a battery operated CO detector when using a generator, even if generator is outside. Any change in wind could potentially send fumes back into your house via any open window/door.
  • When filling generator make sure to allow unit cooling time before restarting. Gasoline is extremely flammable. Please check your manufactures recommendations regarding cooling time.
  • Never place generator near combustibles, i.e. wood, housing, furniture, clothing, or gasoline can
  • NEVER plug a generator directly into home outlets. Only use manufacture recommended heavy duty extensions cords.
  • Generators should be treated as you would any electrical appliance, in terms of water. Please make sure you are not standing in water when using.

Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Exposure
CO directly poisons the cells, especially to the brain.  Symptoms are variable, related to overall saturation and include:
            0 - 05%                       normal value
            15-20%                       headaches, fatigue, confusion
            20-40%                       hallucination, combativeness, nausea, visual changes
            40-60%                       hallucination, combativeness, coma
            >60%                           mortality rate of 50% or more
Seek Medial Attention IMMEDIATELY if symptoms appear!

Use of gasoline
  • Make sure it is stored in a UL approved container
  • Transport gasoline secured in vehicle to avoid spillage
  • NO SMOKING near any gasoline or gas cans. Fumes are flammable.
  • When pouring gasoline make certain that there is no spillage on side of container or around your work area.

Household Heating
  • NEVER heat your home with a gas oven. Heating is not approved by manufactures as gas produces carbon monoxide. Also, many times the oven door is left open an inch or so to allow the heat to permeate the room. This leaves the potential for fires because of combustible materials in a kitchen.
  • Use caution when using boiling water for bathing especially with and around small children. Always check the bathtub temperature with your elbow/hand to ensure water is of safe temperature.
  • More than half of all candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations is too close to the candle
  • The risk of fatal candle fires appears higher when candles are used for light
·         Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, have extra batteries for lighting
  • If you do use candles, ensure they are in sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn
  • Never use a candle where medical oxygen is being used. The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire
  • Always use a flashlight – not a candle – for emergency lighting
  • Extinguish candles after use and before going to bed
  • NEVER leave burning candles unattended!

Although power may have been disconnected by the power company solar panels may re-activate lines

General First Aid
Cool all burns immediately with cool, tepid water, NOT ice
DO NOT APPLY any ointments, butter or other home remedies.  Use only approved topical burn creams
Seek medical attention for any burn larger than a person’s hand size
For electrical burns make sure power source is shut off before touching or removing a victim

Food and Safety Issues Following Storm

The Christie Administration and Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd urge all residents to throw away any food that may have come in contact with flood or storm waters and individuals that have suffered power outages should keeptheir refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

Commissioner O'Dowd urged all residents to dispose of any perishable food that may have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more. Food will stay cold in the refrigerator for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. However, food above 40 degrees for 2 hours or more must be discarded.

"Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozenmay cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd.

Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below can be refrozen or cooked. If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish or eggs while it is still at safe temperatures, it's important that each item is thoroughly cooked to the proper temperature to assure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present is destroyed.

Information about municipalities that have issued boiled water advisories as well as instructions for safely boiling water for drinking can be found at:
Below are some additional food safety tips to prevent illness during power outages, flooding and hurricane conditions:

Add block ice or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity is expected to be off for more than four hours. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep an 18-cubic foot fully-stocked freezer cold for two days.

Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-off caps, snap lids and pull tops.

Discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.

Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.

Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0 °F and the refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees

Wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before eating.

For infants, if using formula, try to use prepared, canned baby formula that requires no added water. When using concentrated or powdered formulas, prepare with bottled water if the local water source is potentially contaminated.

During power outages, the appliance thermometers will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer to help you determine if the food is safe.

Once Power is Restored . . .

You'll need to determine the safety of your food. Here's how:
If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.

If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, 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 40 degrees or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.

Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.

For additional information on food safety and power outages, please visit: and

Tips to help kids and their families work through events like hurricanes

Director of the Division for Child Behavioral Health, Jeffrey Guenzel offers these tips on helping your child cope with the stress of the hurricane.

Children of all ages need to feel safe and that they can turn to their caregivers to provide safety. Caregivers should let their children express their concerns and fears.

· Be as calm as possible around your children. That sense of calmness can really help. You can share your own fears and concerns in basic terms, but try to avoid “venting” your own emotions with your children. Try to find another supportive adult to “vent” your emotions.
· Following a disaster, children need reassurance that they are safe. Provide that reassurance, however it needs to be honest, not a false sense of reassurance. Avoid telling them that a disaster will never happen again, rather reassure them that adults are working hard to protect them and focus on the positive things your family did to get through the disaster.
· Be honest and open, but keep it simple. Don’t get into needless detail about the disaster. Too much information can be confusing and can raise anxiety. At the same time, children can often sense when information is being hidden from them. So, be honest, but keep it simple.
· Maintain your daily routines as best as possible. Once you get past the first few days of managing the disaster, work towards getting back to your children’s normal activities as best as possible.
· Be aware that your children get information from other sources such as friends and the media. Encourage them to talk with you about what they hear. This not only gives them a chance to talk about it, it also gives you a chance to dispel bad information that they may believe is true.
· Manage the amount of information about the hurricane your child is exposed to in the media. Viewing images or hearing descriptions of the hurricane and its aftermath may only heighten a child’s anxiety. For example, a young child may not understand that media footage of collapsing buildings or distraught victims are replays of an event, and may think that a new hurricane has arrived.
· Respect and take the time to listen to your child’s feelings, thoughts and reactions, even if they are different from your own.
· Keep in mind that feelings and thoughts of other events your child may have experienced, such as 9/11, may come back up during this time. Also, the stress of going to school and being away from home can create anxiety for some children. Again, listening and talking with them about this can be very helpful, while also supporting them getting back into their normal routine of going to school and learning.

Finally, caregivers should seek additional help if needed. If a child seems “stuck” and keeps focusing on the hurricane, can not seem to get past the anxiety or sadness, is having trouble sleeping, or is having any continued problems with their daily lives, seek professional help. Talk with your pediatrician or seek out a mental health professional directly. Obtaining professional help as soon as you recognize that your child is having trouble dealing with the effects of a disaster can aid in their recovery. To obtain services for a child through the New Jersey Division of Child Behavioral Health Services, please contact 1-877- 652-7624.

Is It Safe To Cook In My Kithcen After Flooding?

Yes, but precautions must be taken to protect food contact surfaces from contaminating your food. When cleaning or disinfecting, wear protective clothing, such as gloves, to avoid skin contact, irritation, or infection.

• Discard wooden cutting boards, wooden dishes and utensils, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers that have come into contact with flood water. These items cannot be safely cleaned.
• Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse, and then sanitize with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available). Allow to air dry.
• Make sure to clean corners, cracks and crevices, door handles, and door seals, in rooms that have been affected by flood water.

Protection Against Infectious Diseases

Regardless of your vaccination status, there are steps you can take to avoid injury and prevent infection while working in flood-affected areas. Recommendations include:

  • Clean your hands as often as possible. Use soap and water if your hands are visibly soiled, and rub your hands together for at least 15 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly soiled.

  • Take care of cuts or wounds immediately: Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water before cleaning a wound. Clean the wound with soap and clean water and apply a clean, dry dressing. See a healthcare provider for potentially contaminated wounds, bites or punctures. Contact your healthcare provider if you are bitten by an animal.

  • Wear protective clothing: Heavy, waterproof, cut-resistant work gloves, Safety goggles Heavy, hard-soled boots, Long-sleeved shirt and long pants

What To Do If There Is a Delay in Refuse Collection

There may be refuse collection delays in some areas. Here are things you can do to to miminize problems:

  • Limit the amount of waste produced: Avoid disposable products; reuse products such as plastic containers, jars and aluminum foil; compost vegetative and yard wastes if space permits, delay major household cleanups

  • Separate and store food wastes and other wet garbage: Drain excess garbage moisture
    Pour fats, drippings and grease into glass jars and seal with a screw on lid; add a capful of ammonia to reduce odor in garbage containers; double plastic bag wet garbage

  • Separate dry, non-recyclable waste: Store non-recylcable paper, containers, packaging and other dry waste indoors and away from combustible materials.
    Separtate hazardous household waste: Separate fluorescent lights, paints and thinners, incsecticides and herbicides and store out of reach of children. Hold until county hazardous waste collection day.

Clean Your Home and Stop Mold

  • Take out items that have soaked up water and that cannot be cleaned and dried.

  • Fix water leaks. Use fans and dehumidifiers and open doors and windows to remove moisture.

  • To remove mold, mix 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water, wash the item with the bleach mixture, scrub rough surfaces with a stiff brush, rinse the item with clean water, then dry it or leave it to dry.

  • Check and clean heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems before use.

  • To clean hard surfaces that do not soak up water and that may have been in contact with floodwater, first wash with soap and clean water. Next disinfect with a mixture of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Then allow to air dry.

  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles when cleaning withbleach. Open windows and doors to get fresh air. Never mix bleach and ammonia. The fumes from the mixture could kill you.

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