Flooding Aftermath: Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

Flooding can happen anytime in the US. Sadly, one of its consequences is possibly contaminating the drinking water system by flowing sewage and chemicals. Biohazards may also spill into the floodwaters, causing health risks. 

If this occurs, you may need to contact experts to provide protection that prevents contamination to your home, belongings, drinking water, etc. If you live in a flood-prone region, it is critical to be aware of floods’ impacts on your drinking water.

How Floods Affect Your Drinking Water

Flooding can cause septic tanks to overflow. The sewage can carry any disease, which can be released into the floodwaters. Floodwaters may also contain chemicals from industrial plants or hazardous waste sites, releasing dangerous pollutants into your water system. 

In addition, flooding can pollute public drinking water supplies. For instance, many cities’ public-water systems depend on surface waters for their supply needs. If flood water has industrial chemicals or other pollutants, these substances may be carried right into the intake system used to supply the residents with drinking water.

If a system relies on a river as a source and a distribution line, heavy rains upstream could cause the river to overflow its banks and pollute both sources. The longer it takes authorities to clean up after a flood, the more time contaminants reach the groundwater tables, making them more difficult to treat. In cases where septic tanks are used, contact with the water supply can cause them to overflow into the system.

How to Avoid Diseases Caused by Contaminated Drinking Water

1. Evaluate the Damage to Your Home and Household Items

During flooding, assess the damage to your home and household items that might have come into contact with contaminated water. If there is receding water inside your home, thoroughly wipe down all surfaces, including floors, countertops, shelves, appliances, and smaller items, before using them.

If necessary, contact professionals near you to address the damage to your property. While you can do it on your own, these individuals are knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to these events. Plus, they can use any specialized equipment and tools if required, which you may not have.

2. Always Boil Water Before Drinking

Always boil your water before drinking after a flood. Even if you are on a public utility’s clean drinking water system, make sure to follow this step because systems are not fail-safe. When an emergency happens, there is no way to predict how long it will take for government authorities to fix the situation, ensuring safe tap water again. 

Check with your local health department for safe water to drink if you have a well.

3. Never Drink Tap Water if the Flood Is Due to Heavy Rains

If the flood is due to heavy rains, never drink tap water even after boiling or filtering. It might have come in contact with raw sewage containing harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

4. Avoid Using Household Bleach to Disinfect Water After Flooding

Using bleach for this purpose can be harmful because it can lead to chemical poisoning and even minimal amounts are unlikely to kill all pathogens present in water. Bleach also loses its efficacy over time. As an alternative, use chlorine tablets available at camping stores instead. Follow instructions on the packaging carefully.

5. Sanitize Your Hot Water Tank

Make sure to sanitize your hot water tank if you had one when the sewage lines were flooded because there may be contaminants still left on it. Here’s how to do it:

  • Turn off its electrical source and never turn on any electrical appliances connected to the tank, including anything that might send an electric current through it like a hairdryer. 
  • Take off the lid and remove all filters and heating elements. 
  • Use a garden hose to spray inside until clean.

Who to Call?

If in doubt and you suspect that your drinking water is unsafe for anyone to use after flooding, be sure to contact the local health department or environmental officials for their opinion on whether it’s safe enough to drink again. They will take samples of your drinking water at home where they can check both physical and chemical properties like lead concentration that might come from corroded metal pipes.

For private well owners who want to know if their well is still usable during floods, contact companies that test wells like state-certified locations run by professionals experienced in this field or organizations dedicated to testing private wells.

Ultimately, call a property restoration company if you need assistance with flood and help you salvage your home and belongings from further damage. They can also perform biohazard cleanup in case of spills that may harm your family’s health. 

By | 2022-02-07T12:31:50+00:00 February 18th, 2022|Business / HR|0 Comments