Flood prevention and cleanup: protect your property and your health

With warming weather conditions, localized flooding from meltwater and precipitation is a potential risk for homes.

If your home is in an area that may be flooded:

  • Keep your emergency kit close at hand and prepare ahead of time for any potential flooding. For information on making a 72-hour emergency kit.
  • Move valuables to a safe location if you are concerned about flooding.

If you do experience flooding, Public Health Sudbury & Districts has the following cleanup tips:

  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Do not go into flooded basements or rooms where electrical panels or fixtures may be affected by the water. DO NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present.
  • Take the appropriate safety measures when dealing with flooding to prevent illness and injury to yourself and others.
  • Restore your home to good order as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage to the house and its contents. Visit detailed information on cleaning up after a flood.
  • If a food storage area is flooded, only undamaged, commercially-prepared foods in sealed, unopened, airtight, waterproof cans, jars, or waterproof pouches are entirely safe to use. However, these cans, jars, or pouches must be carefully inspected, cleaned, and disinfected before use.
  • Keep in mind that food contaminated with bacteria might not look or smell spoiled—when in doubt, throw it out!

Wells and septic systems:

  • Important precautions need to be taken if a private well might be contaminated. In the short-term, to make it safe, water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for:
    • drinking
    • brushing teeth
    • making infant formula, juices, and ice
    • washing foods such as fruit and vegetables that will be eaten raw
  • Once the flood recedes, wells should be disinfected by adding bleach to them. Well water can be used without boiling once the well has been disinfected and two consecutive, satisfactory laboratory test results are received for the well water.
  • Septic systems do not work properly when the area is flooded or the ground is saturated with water. Septic systems should not be used if this is the case. The power to any pumps or other electrical equipment should be disconnected. Silt should be prevented from entering the pump chamber and septic tank.
  • After the floodwater recedes and the soil is no longer saturated, the septic tank should be pumped.
  • Pump chambers and electrical connections should be checked before using the system.
  • Flooding will not normally harm a septic system, but if damage to the tank or bed is suspected, a licensed septic installer should be contacted.

If you have questions about food safety or cleaning up after a flood and would like to speak with a public health inspector, please call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200, ext. 398, or visit www.phsd.ca.

This item was last modified on May 10, 2019