Prevent flood-related health risk
October 2, 2008 · Updated 10:00 AM
Beyond the risk of life during the initial flood and damage to property, floods carry other unseen dangers. Flood water is polluted with chemicals and contaminated with bacteria from septic systems and other sources of raw sewage. People living in flooded areas or cleaning up after a flood should take precautions to protect against contamination.
Public Health-Seattle & King County has information available to help citizens deal with the aftermath of flooding.
* Seattle-King County Public Health has information on cleaning a house after a flood: www.metrokc.gov/HEALTH/disaster/houseflood.htm
* Knowing which food and medicines are safe after a flood: www.metrokc.gov/HEALTH/disaster/medicines.htm
* Numerous resources, tips and fact sheets related to managing after a flood or disaster: www.metrokc.gov/HEALTH/disaster/index.htm
Water Safety: Though public water systems in North Bend and Snoqualmie were not contaminated by flood water, there are more than 1,600 small shared public water systems in King County and an even larger number of individual private wells that may have been contaminated. The department issued a strong caution to residents living in the flooded areas where flood water has risen above the well casing to drink bottled water or boil their water until the water can be tested for harmful bacteria. The following Web sites provide helpful information:
* How to prepare safe water after a disaster: www.metro-kc.gov/health/disaster/watersafety.htm
* Disinfection of private wells: www.metrokc.gov/health/
* Emergency disinfection of small systems: www.doh.wa.gov/
Septic systems may also have become flooded. Information on septic system usage during power outages or floods is available here: www.metro-kc.gov/health/disaster/septictanks.htm.