Going home after a flood

Flood waters may be receding in parts of Southern B.C., but the problems aren't over for those returning home.

Interior Health advises residents that drinking water can be contaminated.

Floods may introduce raw sewage, chemical contaminants and debris into water sources.

Many disease-causing microbial agents, such as E. Coli, may be present in water impacted by flooding. Wash your hands with soap after contact with flood waters or handling items that have come into contact with flood waters.

Do not drink or use any well water that has been contaminated by flooding. Do not swallow water while you are showering or bathing. Your drinking water sources may need to be treated and tested before consumption can resume.

Wash dishes by rinsing them for a minute in diluted bleach (one tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of tap water). If you are using a dishwasher, use the hot wash and dry cycle.

Meanwhile, the provincial government offers this advice:

  • Walk around the perimeter before entering, noting electrical wiring, any gas smell or debris that could fall. Enter cautiously, and check that the main power breaker is off.
  • Your septic system or sump pump may not work without power, and water may not be safe to consume.
  • All electrical wiring in buildings that has been partially or fully covered by flood water must be checked by a qualified electrician or electrical inspector before being brought back into service. 
  • If water levels rose enough to cover the gas meter, call your local gas provider to check your meter and regulator before using your gas system.
  • Use caution when removing building materials and furniture that have become wet with flood water to prevent exposure to mould. 
  • If your freezer has been without power for more than three days, discard the contents.
  • Review your home insurance policy to understand what items to list, then take an inventory for your claim.
  • Notify your mortgage company, and inform them about restoration of your property.

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