Flood Health and Safety

Residents who have had problems with flooding need to be concerned about the following areas: water safety; food safety; protection against tetanus; human waste precautions; injury prevention and the prevention of future mold growth.

Flood Toolkit

A field Guide for Flooded Home Cleanup

Water Safety

  • Do not use contaminated water to brush teeth, wash dishes, prepare food, make ice, bathe infants, or wash open wounds.
  • Do not let children play in ditches and gutters, the water is probably contaminated.
  • Do NOT swim or bathe in rivers, streams, creeks, or lakes in flooded areas.


Drinking Water Safety (wells)

  • You should consider your well flooded if: the well head was covered or well casing was inundated with water, you notice changes in the taste or color or the presence of sediment in your water, your well is shallow-cased and nearby areas have been flooded.
  • If in doubt about your well water, it is cloudy, discolored, or has an odor, or if flood water has covered your casing and well cap, DO NOT DRINK THE WATER.
  • Use bottled water or disinfect the water by boiling for 5 minutes or adding household bleach (4-6%): 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water; shake and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Test your well water and disinfect your well if needed.

Food Safety

  • Discard any food: if in doubt about safety if food has come into contact with flood water, or if your freezer or refrigerator has been without power for a period of time.
  • For infants, use only pre-prepared canned formula.

Protection Against Tetanus

The tetanus organism is widespread in the environment, especially in soil.  Tetanus immunizations are recommended every 10 years.  Call the Columbia County Division of Health or your doctor for information on this vaccine (608) 742-9227 option 6.

Flood Water Exposure and Implications for Vaccination

Human Waste

  • If sewage disposal systems are not working, use portable toilets.
  • Minimize water use to help overtaxed sewer systems.
  • Sewage may back flow through floor drains into your basement.  These areas must be disinfected with a chlorine bleach solution.
  • Septic Systems - What to do After the Flood

Injury Prevention

  • Electrical safety: contact your utility regarding power outage and restoring power and do not enter a basement with standing water unless the power has been shut off.
  • DO NOT go near any downed power lines especially if there is standing water nearby.
  • Have an electrician inspect electrical appliances that have been wet, and do not turn on or plug in appliances unless an electrician tells you it is safe.
  • Avoid wading in water without proper foot protection, wear proper eyewear, gloves, and other protective equipment when cleaning.
  • Insects: wear repellent when out of doors; remove standing water from tires, pails, cans, and any container on your property.
  • Beware of wild animals such as raccoons and skunks, dogs and cats that you do not know, or animals that may have entered your home, garage, or other buildings, if you had to evacuate.
  • Re-Entering Your Home

 Mold Growth and Cleanup

Clean up, dry out, or discard wet materials as soon as possible.  Items should be taken care of within 24-48 hours.

(Link to CCDOH Mold page)

Additional Resources

Well Flooding

Home Well Water Testing Process and Fees

Well Water with Bacteria

WI DNR Contamination and Disinfection of Water Wells

Flood Hazards & Recovery