Facts and resources for flood safety

Floodwaters can contain bacteria, fecal material, viruses, and other organisms that may cause disease. Below are basic tips for you and your family on how to deal with a flood and stay healthy and prevent injuries:

Basic Hygiene Measures

  • Avoid skin contact with floodwater, especially cuts and sores. Keep them clean and covered
  • Do not allow children to play in floodwater
  • Do not eat or drink anything exposed to floodwater
  • Keep contaminated objects, water and hands away from mucous membranes (mouth, eyes and nose)
  • Wash hands frequently, especially after bathroom use, before eating and immediately following contact with floodwater or contaminated objects or surfaces

Food and water safety measures

If the safety of any food or beverage is questionable, follow this simple rule: When in doubtThrow it Out

 

In the event of a power outage

 
  • Do not eat any food that has come in contact with floodwater, including food in refrigerators or freezers
  • Throw away all fresh fruits and vegetables exposed to floodwater - especially those in home gardens
  • Throw away milk, cheeses and other foods that can spoil easily
  • Completely thawed meats and vegetables must be thrown away

Canned Goods

  • Throw out food in containers with cork-lined lids or caps, screw tops or pop tops that have been exposed to floodwater. They are nearly impossible to clean thoroughly around the opening.
  • Undamaged cans are usually safe. Wash them in bleach water (1/4-cup bleach per one gallon of water) for one minute, and then dry to prevent rusting.
  • If cans have dents or pitted rust spots that cannot be buffed off with a soft cloth, contamination may have entered through corroded holes so you should throw these out.
  • Cans with ends that bulge or spring in and out when pressed should be thrown out.
  • Do not taste the contents in the cans.

Water Supplies

  • Public and private water supplies may be contaminated in a flood so listen for public announcements on the safety of your area’s water supply.
  • If your water is contaminated, use only bottled or disinfected water for drinking, cooking, tooth brushing and bathing until you are sure the water supply is safe.
  • If you have to use tap water, boil it vigorously for at least five minutes.
  • Private water wells should be pumped out, allowed to recharge naturally, disinfected and the water tested before drinking or being used for cooking.