Environmental health officials ask residents to take health precautions after flooding
In Maryland, additional rainfall is expected through Friday so Health Department officials are reminding residents to take certain health and safety precautions.
Health officials say that people should make every effort to limit contact with any potential flood water because of the possibility of contamination associated with raw sewage and other hazardous materials.
WELL AND SEPTIC PROTECTION IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS
Health officials note the following if you have an individual well and know or suspect floodwaters have entered your well:
- Do not turn on the pump. There is a danger of electrical shock and damage to the well
- Do not drink or wash with well water. People drinking or washing with water from a private well that has been flooded and not properly disinfected, risk getting sick
- Assume the well is contaminated
- Check electrical components
- Check pump operation and remove debris prior to sustained use of pump
- Pump off any muddy or cloudy water until the water is clear, but do not allow the water to be discharged into your septic system
- Contact a licensed well driller to perform an emergency disinfection of the water system
- Do not use the sewage system until water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house
- Well disinfection will not provide protection from pesticides, heavy metals and other types of non-biological contamination. If such contamination is suspected, special treatment may be required
PREVENTING FOODBORNE ILLNESSES
Another major concern for health officials is preventing illnesses from food borne contamination at times following flooding or periods of utility outages:
- Residents should throw away any food that comes in contact with flood or storm water.
- Any canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged must be discarded, as well as any food with an unusual odor, color or texture.
- Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is ? 41°F or below can be refrozen or cooked.
- If power goes out, residents should keep their refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- It is recommended to add block ice or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity is expected to be off longer than 4 hours, but individuals should remember to wear heavy gloves if handling ice.
Residents with concerns about well water should contact the Health Department at 410-546-4446.