DSHS Urges Residents to Take Health Precautions Following East Texas Flooding

News Release
News Release
May 7, 2024

The Texas Department of State Health Services is providing health precautions as East Texas residents return to areas affected by heavy rains and flooding.

Health officials offer the following advice:  

Returning Home

  • Do not drive through flooded areas. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
  • Beware of electrocution risks during flooding. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or you are standing in water. Do not walk through standing water – watch for downed lines and report any to local emergency officials and your local power company.
  • Be aware of unsafe power sources – return in daylight for best visibility. Lanterns or torches should not be used until after the premises are safe from gas leaks.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes in storm-affected areas to reduce the chances of cuts or punctures from nails and other sharp objects.
  • Do not handle any wildlife. Snakes and other wild animals may seek shelter in homes, vehicles and trees and can be injured in heavy rains and winds. Beware of displaced pets. Seek immediate treatment if bitten or injured by an animal.

Cleanup and Recovery

  • Always use gasoline-powered generators and charcoal grills outdoors and at least 20 feet from homes because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Direct generator engine exhaust away from windows and doors.
  • Never mix bleach with products that contain ammonia so to avoid creating toxic fumes.
  • Disinfect household surfaces, furniture, woodwork, and toys in homes that have flooded. Use a solution of one cup bleach to five gallons of water.
  • Wash hands often during property cleanup to help avoid contaminating areas that have already been cleaned.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites with an EPA-registered insect repellent. Standing water following floods can be a breeding place for mosquitoes. Drain all the standing water on your property and dump out containers like flowerpots and saucers, toys, old tires, cans, and storm debris.
  • People with heart conditions and other chronic illnesses should avoid strenuous exertion. Conserve energy, rest often, and stay hydrated to avoid heat stress.

Drinking Water

  • Residents under boil water alerts and those with private wells that may have been contaminated by floodwater should use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until water has been tested and found safe to drink.
  • When boiling water for drinking, cooking, and washing, bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute and then let it cool. If boiling is not possible, you can disinfect water with regular, unscented household bleach using one-eighth teaspoon (about eight drops) per gallon of water. Add the bleach, stir well, and let stand for 30 minutes.


  • Refrigerated food may have spoiled if power has been off. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours or that has an unusual color or odor.
  • Do not eat food that has been in contact with flood water.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and disinfected water before eating or handling food, after clean-up work, and after handling flood water-contaminated items.

Texans with damage to homes or businesses from storms and flooding should report that damage via an online survey. Property damage reports help officials determine eligibility for disaster assistance and identify resource needs.

Visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management website for more severe storm resources.


(Contact: pressofficer@dshs.texas.gov)