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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jay Lynch, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Cell

Date: August 25, 2011


Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) urges Delawareans to begin preparations to keep their families, homes and provisions safe with the threat of Hurricane Irene in our weekend forecast.

At minimum, residents should obtain bottled water at one gallon per person per day for at least three days, and non-perishable foods in preparation for potential power failure and problems with water systems. Those who need prescription medications should have at least a three day supply of medicine available to them. Home maintenance and safety measures are also important to prevent injuries and indoor air quality problems, as are instructions on how to "shelter in place" and maintain wellness in the event of a disaster.

DPH offers the tips below to help Delawareans prepare:

Sheltering In Place:

In the event of a disaster, officials may advise Delawareans and visitors to "shelter in place," or stay at their current location. This recommendation protects individuals from hazards in the community due to disastrous conditions. Travel may be dangerous or it may not be possible to evacuate during or immediately after a storm or emergency situation.

The following steps are recommended for individuals who have to shelter in place during a hurricane:

Food Safety:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests these actions to keep foods safe during disasters and loss of power:

Precautions to prevent problems that could lead to mold, indoor air quality, or injury:

Coping with stressful emergencies:

People in the path of a hurricane or other natural emergency may experience stress or worry about an event which may adversely affect households and communities with injury, loss of life, home and possessions. Be aware of short-term stress symptoms and that they affect adults and children differently.

Symptoms of such stress in adults could include anxious, suspicious, depressed, or indecisive behavior and may use or increase their consumption of drugs or alcohol.

Children may be frightened, sad, anxious or clingy, maybe even a little angry. Assure children they are safe, and encourage them to talk about their feelings and reactions to the situation. Answer their questions honestly and use words and concepts they can understand.

Elderly citizens who are stressed may exhibit symptoms including changes in behavior such as complaining more about physical aches and pains, confusion, and childish, passive or clinging behavior.

To reduce stress, DPH recommends:

If flooding occurs:

Flooding can introduce impurities to both public and private drinking water sources. Property owners with individual private wells should be aware of potential health hazards should their wells become submerged. This is especially critical for drinking water wells with wellheads that are above ground. Buried wells are less susceptible to the affects of flooding and are not likely to be adversely impacted. As a precaution, have enough bottled water to provide one gallon per person per day.

If you suspect your drinking water wellhead has become flooded, take the following precautions:

Please remember that preparation is critical in reducing injury or discomfort during and after weather related emergencies.

For more information, see DPH's website at or visit the Delaware Emergency Management Administration (DEMA) website at

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.