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 Flooding Water

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Given the heavy rain that Ohio has experienced recently, here is some information to help keep everyone safe when flooding occurs. Flood water is not just a nuisance, it also  can contain potentially dangerous materials, such as fecal matter from overflowing sewage systems, agricultural runoff and chemicals from industrial areas.

Wading in flood waters can also be a cause of infection or result in a variety of injuries. Eating or drinking  anything contaminated by flood water can cause diarrheal disease.

Follow these tips to stay healthy during and after the flood:

Flooding in Your Area

  • Tune into local radio and TV stations to see if your area is under a boil alert for drinking water.
  • Follow the guidelines if you have a private water system or sewage treatment system impacted by flooding.
  • Follow these guidelines if flooding has interrupted power to your private water system or sewage treatment system.
  • Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.
  • Practice good hygiene (Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap is not available) after contact with flood waters. Wash children's hands frequently (always before meals).
  • Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat. Such items include food that has come into direct contact with flood waters and/or refrigerated foods when the power has been off for four or more hours.
  • Disinfect food-contact surfaces and utensils that have come into direct contact with flood waters using soap and clean warm water.

Cleaning Your Home After a Flood

Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area.

  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.
  • Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
  • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers.
  • After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for one minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands).
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.

Additional Resources:

Risks of Flood Waters

Cleanup of Flood Water

A Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes

Food and Water Safety during a Disaster

Restaurants and Grocers Reopening After Hurricanes and Flooding

Disinfecting and Sanitizing

Want to volunteer to help cleanup after a disaster? Make sure you get vaccinated ahead of time.

 Page updated: 12/28/2015