Government of New Brunswick

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.


Water Contamination

  • 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.

Tips on packaged foods

Foods that have damaged packaging, such as packages that are crushed, dented or have deep rusting, as well as packages that have holes, leakage, punctures or swelling, should be discarded.

Only undamaged, commercially-prepared foods in sealed, unopened, airtight, waterproof cans, jars or pouches are entirely safe to use. Be sure to carefully inspect, and clean and disinfect before use by following these procedures:

  • If possible, remove the labels on cans or pouches since they could have come into contact with dirt or bacteria. Be sure to re-label your cans or pouches, including the ““best before”” date, with a permanent marker.
  • After labels are removed, cans can be washed, rinsed and then disinfected by emerging in a mild bleach solution for 2 minutes - 5 ml (or 1 tsp) of bleach per 750 ml (or 3 cups) of water.
  • Air-dry all cleaned food cans, jars and pouches to prevent potential contamination when the containers are opened.

When to throw out food

Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with animal waste, chemicals, floodwater, snow and ice, and soil and dirt.

Baby formula containers, cardboard juice containers, home- canned foods and milk containers that have come into contact with floodwater or hazardous material, should be thrown away. 

Wash, rinse and sanitize

  • Food preparation equipment, surfaces, dishes and utensils should be washed, rinsed, and then disinfected with a mild bleach solution for 2 minutes - 5 ml (or 1 tsp) of bleach per 750 ml (or 3 cups) of water.
  • It is important to allow equipment, surfaces, dishes and utensils to air dry thoroughly before storing.
  • After following these steps, utensils used for infant feeding must be boiled for 2 minutes before use.

Refrigerators, Freezers, Stoves and Other Appliances

Appliances and food contact surfaces should be cleaned as follows:

  • Ensure electrical power is turned off.
  • Clean the unit thoroughly with a detergent solution, rinse with clean water that has been previously boiled, then wash with a solution containing one-half cup of Javex or similar product in nine litres (two gallons) of water.
  • Allow to dry with door kept open.

Any appliance that has been partially or wholly immersed in water is no longer insulated.. It cannot be dried without removal. A qualified service technician should be contacted before the appliance is put into service.


Hazardous Products

Household hazardous products, such as pesticides, can also cause problems. Contaminated items and surfaces should also be cleaned. Although small amounts of household hazardous products or agricultural products can be placed in plastic bags and discarded with domestic garbage, significant quantities should be handled differently, under the advice of the Department of the Environment.

Basements and Rooms

It is important to use a good soap or detergent, "elbow grease", and lots of hot water when cleaning.

Walls, solid floors, and ceilings should be thoroughly scrubbed with a good detergent or soap and water. Avoid household bleach. Organic content and pH in flood waters as well as contact time required for bleach to kill microorganisms may render bleach ineffective. For significant flood or water damage, you may need to consult with an air quality specialist or professional cleaner.

Water and wastes can be removed by pumping, pails, shovels, etc. Wastes should be buried at least 15 metres (50 feet) away from the source of any water supply. Lime may be used to cover wastes before covering with soil. This advice applies to all waste disposals in the following section. Oil or petroleum products are usually removed with Varsol or similar products.

After cleaning, open doors and windows to air thoroughly and help the drying process.

Household Furnishings

Solid wood or metal furniture can be cleaned with a household detergent solution, wiping clean and then wiping dry. Furniture should be left to dry outside before furniture polish may be applied where needed. Upholstered furniture and mattresses affected by flooding should not be used.

For further information please contact your local Public Health Inspection Office.

(506) 549-5550
(506) 737-4400
(506) 453-2830
(506) 856-2814
(506) 273-4836
(506) 658-3022
(506) 325-4408