Flood Health and Safety
Follow basic hygiene practices.
- Always wash hands with soap and water before eating food and after handling articles
contaminated with flood water.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to flood water.
- Wear protective gloves, boots and eye wear.
- Work cautiously, rest frequently and eat a balanced diet.
- Bathe or shower in clean water as soon as possible after exposure to flood water.
- Use insect repellents to discourage biting insects.
Ensure drinking water is safe.
- Obtain water from a known safe public water supply or buy bottled water.
- Haul and store drinking water in clean containers (not old milk or juice jugs).
- As a last resort, clear water may be treated for drinking by boiling it for one minute
or by adding eight drops of unscented household bleach per gallon (mix well and wait at
least 30 minutes before drinking). If not clear, filter it through a clean cloth, paper
towel, or coffee filter OR allow it to settle and pull off the clear water; then boil or
add eight drops of bleach as described above.
Private well owners should take additional precautions.
- Don’t drink water from flooded wells unless the well has been properly disinfected and
then tested for drinking safety.
- Contact your local county health department for a free flood sampling container and
AFTER flood waters have receded, shock chlorinate and flush wells BEFORE
submitting a sample to the Laboratory for testing.
- Shallow wells (less than 100 feet deep) can be contaminated from nearby flooding and
should be tested to ensure a safe supply of drinking water.
Make sure food is safe to eat.
- Discard all containers with signs of leakage or damage.
- Foods in paper, cardboard or flexible plastic must be thrown away.
- Discard foods in corked bottles, canisters and screw-capped jars or bottles.
- Canned goods may be sanitized and used if the label is removed, the can is washed in
hot, soapy water and the item is identified with a permanent marking pen.
- Solutions containing chlorine bleach are not recommended for cleaning cans because they
- Leafy vegetables cannot be washed adequately to be eaten raw.
- Thawed foods should not be refrozen.
Clean up after a flood in a way that prevents illnesses.
- Use non-sudsing cleaning products (Spic and Span, Trisodium Phosphate, etc.) to wash
- Use commercial cleaners for fabrics.
- Disinfect sewage-contaminated areas with a solution of household bleach (1/4 cup per
gallon of water).
- Consult professional carpet cleaners before attempting to salvage carpet or carpet
- Remove flood damaged sheet rock to permit studs and insulation to dry thoroughly.
- Remove silt, sludge and debris from ductwork and dry it thoroughly before reactivating
heating/air conditioning units.
The State Hygienic Laboratory provides additional assistance, including:
- Private well water testing for individuals through county health departments, and
- Consultation on disease prevention, water and food safety, and disinfection of