Flood health tips

January 8, 2009

By Staff

NEW — 10:30 a.m. Jan. 8, 2008

Keep yourself healthy and safe with these flood health tips from the King County health department if there has been any significant flooding to your property.

Drinking water wells:

If you suspect that your well has been flooded, do not drink the water until the well has been tested and decontaminated. Wells that are flooded can be contaminated by germs that cause serious illness, such as giardiasis, gastroenteritis and hepatitis.

If your well is possibly contaminated, drink bottled water or boil your water for at least one minute before drinking. 

Septic systems:

Septic tank systems that have been flooded should not be used.

After waters have receded, check the system for broken lines or sewage surfacing.

Correct any problems before using the system.

If you have questions about septic systems, call 206-296-4932.

Safe food and medicine after a flood:

Discard food, medicines and cosmetics that were not in water-tight containers and that were exposed to flood waters. Disinfect water-tight containers that were exposed to flood water.

Discard all milk, fish, meat, poultry and eggs, if refrigeration has been off and the temperature is greater than 41 degrees. 


Businesses and homes often have chemical products, like cleaners, solvents, fuels and pesticides, that are harmful to humans, animals and the environment. Store these products above flood height and in spill-proof containers. Some of these materials can burn, kill, poison or react violently with water or air if they are not stored safely. If you have questions, call the Household Hazards Line at 206-296-4692 or click here.

Cleaning a basement or house after a flood:

Be careful before using any electric appliance in a house that has been flooded.

Do not turn on wet electric appliances, because they may cause an electric shock, overheat or start a fire.

Fumes from all solvents are toxic and some are flammable.

Detailed information on flood and health-related topics can be found in English and other languages here.

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