REPORT FROM THE HAWAII HEALTH DEPARTMENT – In the aftermath of recent heavy rains and flooding on Kaua’i, the Department of Health (DOH) is reminding people to take precautions to prevent cuts, wounds, or abrasions while working in or around freshwater, moist vegetation, and/or storm debris. Wear protective clothing such as gloves, boots, long sleeves and heavy pants when working in mud or water, gardening, clearing vegetation, or wading through standing water. These protective measures are especially important if you already have cuts, abrasions, or open wounds.

If you must work in these conditions and already have cuts or open wounds, keep them clean and covered with bandages to help shield against bacteria entering through the skin and causing infection.  Whether you have wounds or not, be sure to clean exposed areas with soap and water after working in flooded areas or similar conditions.

If you do have a cut or wound, let your doctor or other healthcare provider know of any increasing warmth, redness, swelling, and pain.  Treatment and care of major wounds, such as dressing changes, may require the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider.

Other good hygiene practices that help decrease the risk of getting skin infections include:

  • Keeping your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoiding contact with other people’s wounds or bandages
  • Avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or razors

More information on wound care and preventing infection is available at:

CDC—Flood Waters or Standing Waters: Health Risks: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/flood/standing.html

CDC—Emergency Wound Care After a Natural Disaster: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/woundcare.asp

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