Flooding and your health
What should I do during a flood?
Disinfect your drinking water
- If flood waters are around your well or water intake, disinfect or boil your water before drinking or using it. Or use an alternate source of safe drinking water like bottled water.
- Info on disinfecting your water is available at your local Environmental Health Office.
Protect your sewage system
- During a flood, avoid running taps and using toilets or anything which results in waste water entering a septic tank. This can overload the system, possibly leading to a sewage backup into your home.
- You should also shut off the power to your sewage lift pump if the system has one and it’s safe to do so.
Water in your basement
- Avoid coming into contact with this water, because it could have harmful bacteria or other contaminants.
- Disinfecting any standing water in your basement can help stop it from becoming stagnant. Measure 2 litres (2 quarts) of liquid chlorine bleach and distribute it evenly over any standing water. Stir the bleach and water together as much as you can. Repeat every four to five days for as long as the water is in your basement.
Surface water isn’t safe
- It should be assumed that all surface water (lakes, rivers, ditches, etc.) is naturally contaminated, particularly during a flood. Stay away from surface water until floodwaters have receded, and keep your children and pets away from those waters too.
What should I do after a flood?
- If flood waters have impacted your water supply, continue to use an alternate water source, or disinfect or boil water until you have the water tested. Contact your Environmental Health Office to have your well tested for free. You must disinfect your well prior to taking the sample.
- Don’t use your sewage system until water in the disposal field is lower than the water level around the house. If you suspect damage to your septic tank, have it professionally inspected and serviced before using it again. To find a registered inspector, consult the Registered Onsite Waste Water Practitioner list found at the Environmental Health Office or at OWRP - Onsite Wastewater
- Pump the septic system as soon as possible after the flood once the soil is no longer saturated or flooded.
Protect your house from mold
- Get saturated materials out of you’re your home and dry the home out as fast as you can. Using fans to ventilate the area will help.
- If floodwaters have contaminated surfaces like walls or floors, you can sanitize these areas with a bleach solution. Mix one quart of household bleach to 6 to 10 gallons of water (1 litre of household bleach to 25 litres water).
- You can get more information on mold and removing it at the Environmental Health Office, or Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Throw away unsafe food
- Get rid of food that‘s been contaminated or spoiled due to water damage.
- You may be able to save some sealed or canned food.Make sure you wash and sanitize the containers so the food won’t get contaminated when you open it.
- Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat.
- Throw out perishable foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours.
- Foods that have thawed in the freezer may be re-frozen if they still contain ice crystals or are at 4°C or below.
Vermin, pests and dead animals