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Healthy Environments

After a Flood

After your home (or cottage) has been flooded, it is important to clean up and dry things as soon as possible. This will not only reduce your risk or exposure to potential contaminants like mould, it will also assist in the prevention of further damage to your home and belongings. Residents who have been evacuated should not return home after a flood until cleanup is finished and a supply of safe water and proper disposal of human waste and garbage has been arranged.

Floodwaters are usually very dirty containing sewage, chemical or other hazardous items. During a flood, water leaves the normal course of streambeds and washes over the countryside. The floodwaters then come in contact with farmyards, manure piles, refuse heaps, outhouses, overflowing septic systems, and other sources of disease, resulting in heavy contamination of the water. The contaminated water can make people sick and items that have been in contact with the floodwaters need to be handled properly.


  • Ensure cleanup and appropriate drying of items and surfaces has been completed;
  • If your food has come in contact with contaminated flood waters or you have been without electricity, disposal of food will be required;
  • A supply of safe drinking water is available (if your water supply was previously deemed unsafe to drink); and
  • Items that may have been contaminated by sewage or other contaminants have been properly disposed of.

If there is potential that the floodwaters are contaminated by sewage, chemicals, or other hazardous items, cleaning and disinfection of walls, hard-surfaced floors, and other household surfaces is critical to remove any bacteria and viruses that could be present. It is important that surfaces that have been in contact with contaminated floodwaters be disinfected. You can disinfect with a solution of 5 ml of household bleach mixed with 1 L of water.

When using a disinfectant, be sure to ventilate the room by opening windows and wear rubber boots, waterproof gloves, and a N95 respirator (mask) as strong solutions may irritate skin and cause respiratory symptoms.

When you first arrive home, no part of a flooded room or area can be assumed safe. Ensure that battery powered flashlights or lanterns are used. Using candles, gas lanterns or torches could be an ignition source.

  • Do not enter a flooded room or area where electrical equipment may still be plugged in - there is a high risk of shock. Remember, electricity can travel through water or wet material like carpets.
  • Never assume any part of a flooded electrical system is safe, not even the main breaker or circuit breaker. If the main switch at your electrical panel was left in the "on" position prior to a flood, contact your local utility company to ensure power to the building has been disconnected before attempting to access the panel.
  • Do not plug in or attempt to use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been checked or serviced by an electrician or service agency. Ask your electrician, or contact the manufacturer or dealer for the nearest service location.

For more information on electrical safety, be sure to review the Electrical Safety Authority's Guidelines on what to do in the event of flooding or water damage.

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