Protecting Yourself When Cleaning Your Home
For personal protection during clean-up, wear rubber gloves and other protective clothing. Avoid direct skin contact with contaminated material. Practice good personal hygiene (i.e. wash hands before eating or smoking) and change outer clothing before entering a "clean" residence.
Although, exposure to flood waters does not increase the risk of tetanus, immunizations are recommended through all stages of life. Keeping immunizations (vaccinations) up-to-date is important for everyone. All adults should be immunized against diphtheria and tetanus. Booster doses of diphtheria and tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine (Td) are recommended every 10 years. Adults who have not received an adult dose of pertussis-containing vaccine should receive one dose of Tdap vaccine from their local public health clinics. The tetanus vaccine is provided free as a part of the Routine New Brunswick Immunization Schedule for children and adults. We encourage all New Brunswickers to always keep their immunizations up to date.
- If your well is currently under water, do not use your well water.
- If your well water has a persistant odour or discolouration even after letting the water run, and/or you think that your well may be affected by chemicals such as furnace oil, gasoline or agricultural chemicals, do not use your well water for any purpose whatsoever – even if it has been boiled. If this is the case, you should contact the nearest Regional office of the Department of Environment and Local Government at (506) 453-2690 for further information or visit their website.
- When flood waters have receded away from your well, and chemical contamination is not suspected, all water destined for drinking, making juices and ice cubes, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking, or dental hygiene should be held at a rolling boil for one (1) minute. Water can be boiled ahead of time, cooled and then stored in clean covered containers. Water should be boiled until the well is chlorinated and test results show the water is free from harmful bacteria. For information on how and when to test your water, consult the Department of Environment and Local Government's guide entitled: Well Chlorination and Water Testing for Those Affected by Flooding.
Mould and Mildew
To avoid the health hazards of mildew and mould, follow these important tips.
Water soaked walls and insulation should be removed, and the space and studding allowed to dry thoroughly. Walls constructed of gyproc, plaster or wood will dry out in time but insulation in these walls is no longer effective. As insulation becomes water soaked the weight causes it to settle and compact at the bottom, leaving a large portion of the wall no longer insulated.
Obtain approval from assessors, insurance agents and other relevant agencies before discarding or destroying any furniture or equipment.
- Immediate action is important as your house and furnishings are less likely to grow mould if contents are dried within 48 hours of water receding.
- Avoid skin contact with contaminated material. During clean-up be sure to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, a mask and goggles to protect eyes, nose, mouth and skin and wash your hands frequently with clean warm water and soap.
- It is important to use a good soap or detergent, and lots of hot water when cleaning. In order to prevent toxic fumes, do not mix cleaning products together, especially bleach and ammonia.
- After cleaning, open doors and windows to air thoroughly and help the drying process.
Foods Affected by Flooding
Practicing safe food-handling is an important part of everyday life, but is especially important in emergency situations. Be sure to carefully inspect all food items and do not eat any food you think may not be safe. Spoiled food may not look contaminated. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.
Tips to keep food safe during a power outage
When handling refrigerated and frozen food after a power failure discard any thawed food that has been at room temperature for two or more hours, and any food that has an obvious unusual colour or odour.
- A full freezer will keep food frozen for about 48 hours. Similarly, a half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
- An unopened refrigerator will keep food cool for approximately 4 to 6 hours.
- Perishable foods that have been above 4 deg. C (40 deg. F) for less than 2 hours may be eaten immediately, or cooked and eaten immediately.
- Blocks of ice can be used to help keep the temperature of refrigerators and freezers to a safe level. Ensure ice is from a safe source.
- Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but it will remain safe to eat. Do not refreeze food unless the food still contains ice crystals or feels ‘refrigerator cold’ (4 deg. C or 40 deg. F).
- If you know the power will be out for longer than 48 hours, you may move perishable food to another location that has a properly functioning refrigerator and/or freezer. • Do not put frozen (or any) food outside, even during winter, unless protected in a cooler with ice. If it’s a sunny day, find a shaded spot if necessary.