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Rhode Islanders Urged to Be Mindful of Post-Storm Safety Issues

As storm cleanup and restoration efforts begin, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) urges all Rhode Islanders to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety.

The storm has passed; however, there are still strong currents and riptides. Water conditions are a danger to swimmers, surfers, boaters and to onlookers. Onlookers standing on rocks, jetties, or sea walls can easily be washed off the rocks by the powerful surf.

Extended power outages and flood waters can jeopardize the safety of the food you eat and the water you drink. During a power outage, avoid opening refrigerators and freezers. If the power is out for more than four hours, throw away meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, deli items, and any leftovers. If the temperature in the freezer goes below 41 degrees, throw away any food that is in the freezer. Many times, you cannot see, smell, or taste bacteria in food that could make you sick. When in doubt, throw it out! Public drinking water systems regularly monitor drinking water for possible contaminants and bacteria and will continue to do so. For information on water quality, visit www.health.ri.gov/news/drinkingwaterquality/index.php

Do not trust that drinking water from flooded private wells is safe. Private wells that have flooded (wells that have standing water around them) should be considered contaminated. People with flooded wells should take the following precautions:

  • Boil water for one minute before drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth.
  • Get well water tested for coliform bacteria as soon as possible. Lab tests usually take about three days, but it may take longer for you to get the results depending on which lab you use. Continue to boil water until you get your test results back and the water has been deemed safe for consumption.
  • Once flood waters have receded, your well will need to be disinfected with chlorine and tested before you begin drinking it again.

Damaging winds and storm surges have downed numerous power lines and trees, many along roadways. Drivers should proceed with caution in order to avoid any debris on the roadway. If large debris such as power lines or tree limbs is in the way, do not attempt to drive through it. Seek an alternate route, and contact officials to provide the location of the debris so that it can be removed from the roadway. Pedestrians encountering any downed power lines should assume that they are live. Do not touch them or try to move them.

Anyone who is using a generator during a power outage should make sure that the generator was installed by a licensed professional. Never use a generator inside, and follow all manufacturer instructions when using it.

For regularly updated information on the response to Hurricane Sandy, visit www.riema.ri.gov or visit 211.

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