FREDERICTON (GNB) – Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell is reminding New Brunswickers to be cautious with their drinking water and food supplies when cleaning up during and following flooding in their homes and area.

“During and following a flood situation it is essential that affected residents take the precautions necessary to reduce possible risks to their health and that of their family,” said Russell.

Private water supplies contaminated by flooding should not be used while the wellhead is flooded. Once flood waters have receded, the well should be disinfected and the water quality should be tested prior to use.

To avoid the health hazards of food contamination, discard all perishable goods, vacuum-packed foods and any other foods contaminated by flooding. Home preserves, meats, fish or dairy products should also be discarded if they have been contaminated.

Care is also called for regarding consumption of frozen or refrigerated foods if a home has been without electrical power for any extended period.

“One commonly accepted rule of thumb is that if there are still ice crystals in frozen food, it is safe to be re-frozen or thawed properly and consumed,” said Russell. “However, when in doubt, throw it out.”

Cooking and eating utensils should be cleaned of all deposits and sanitized. Utensils used for infant feeding should be disinfected according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Private water supplies may also be affected by chemicals such as furnace oil, gasoline or agricultural chemicals. Residents who think their well has been contaminated by such chemicals should not use that water for any domestic purpose whatsoever - even if it has been boiled - before it is deemed safe by health officials.

More information is available on the Department of Health website, or the Department of Justice and Public Safety's New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization website.