For many people, the Labor Day Weekend is a last chance to get in family trips and activities before school begins and summer turns to fall, but holiday weekend falls on the heels of extreme weather conditions leading to widespread flooding and storm damage. Governor Scott Walker has issued a statewide disaster declaration, directing state agencies to assist in the response and recovery efforts.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), along with other state agencies, offers these tips so you can enjoy the long weekend safely:
- Plan Your Route. Many areas of the state still are flooded, and some roads are closed. Check the Department of Transportation alert page at 511wi.gov(link is external). Never drive through standing water or go past a barricade. Stay on designated detour routes. Many state, county and local roads are experiencing flooding.
- Confirm Your Destination. Before you travel, call ahead and check on the conditions at your location. For information on state parks, trails or other state property closures, go to the Department of Natural Resources webpage or search “current conditions.” If your planned location is not available and you must change your plans, the Department of Tourism(link is external) website is a great resource.
- Swim Safely. If swimming is in your weekend plans, check local health departments for beach conditions and slow no-wake zones. Just because the water looks clear doesn’t mean there isn’t debris under the surface. Also, manure, pesticides, and other chemicals run into waterways during floods, so avoid swimming or wading in areas that have been flooded.
- Boat Safely. Boaters may encounter unexpected debris in the water. Be cautious and wear a life jacket.
- Use Bug Spray. If you will be spending time outdoors, be sure to wear bug repellent to keep mosquitoes and ticks away and to avoid illnesses like West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Standing water creates the environment mosquitoes need to breed. Empty containers around your area that may have collected rain water.
- Stock Up. Whether you are hitting the road or staying home, if you are in or near a flooded area, be sure to have a supply of bottled water and non-perishable food. In some affected areas, more rain is in the forecast.
- Watch the Weather. Monitor the forecast and take cover or reroute your trip, if necessary. As always, have an emergency kit in your car. This kit should include water and food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and a cell phone with chargers and a backup battery.
- Know Your Limits. Many people will be spending the Labor Day weekend cleaning up property and debris. Be sure to stay hydrated and rest often, especially if you are not used to strenuous activity or if you have a health condition. More information on safe cleanup can be found at the links below.
DHS has created a Floods Resources page with fact sheets, pictures, and other easy to use materials that can be downloaded and shared. Additional flood-related information is available from Wisconsin Emergency Management(link is external), the Department of Natural Resources(link is external), and the Department of Transportation(link is external), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Preventio (CDC)(link is external).