After a Flood: clean up tips

June 26, 2017

Huron County, ON – With heavy rainfall and flooding in Huron County over the weekend, the Huron County Health Unit has suggestions for safe clean up.

Drinking Water

Public Health Inspector Mike Park says well owners in areas that received heavy rain fall and flooding need to be testing their water now.  Flood water can be heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants. It can cause sickness and infections.

“Wells in low-lying, flood-prone areas are at risk for contamination from surface runoff,” says Park. Runoff comes from rain. Dug wells, well pits and well casings without a proper seal are most at risk.

Park says well water that has an odour, is discoloured or has an off taste should not be consumed or used for food preparation. Even water that is clear and odourless needs to be tested to ensure it is safe.

Whenever you are unsure about the safety of your well water, you should boil the water for at least one minute before using it for drinking and food preparation. Or you can use bottled water until a water test confirms a safe water supply.

Septic Systems

  • Be sure that your septic tank cover is secure
  • Do not use the sewage system until the water level in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house.
  • Have you septic tank inspected professionally if you suspect damage.
  • Do not drive heavy equipment over the soil of the absorption field as it is more vulnerable to compaction.
  • If sewage has backed up in your basement clean and disinfect with a chlorine solution. Use a half cup of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water to disinfect the area thoroughly.


  • Discard any food that may have been touched by flood waters, except for commercially canned foods.
  • Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels, thoroughly wash the can then disinfect with a bleach solution.
  • Foods with twist off caps (sodas, juices, sauce) should be discarded, because they cannot be adequately disinfected
  • When in doubt… throw it out!

Clean Up

Maintain good hygiene during flood cleanup. Minimize contact with floodwater or anything that may have been in contact with it. Keep children away from contaminated areas during cleanup operations.

4 Steps to Cleaning After a Flood

  • Prepare for the cleanup
    • Gather supplies that you may need to protect yourself and to clean up the affected areas, such as: gloves, N95 mask, rubber boots, goggles, soap, pails, dehumidifiers and wet/dry vacuums
    • Vent the affected areas by opening windows and doors
  • Remove water mud and other debris
    • Standing water, soak and dirty material, debris, soil and residual mud should all be removed for the area
    • Use soap and water to clean all affected areas
    • Ensure all cleaned areas are allowed to dry as quickly as possible
  • Dispose of household items that cannot be dried within 48 hours
    • If household items cannot be dried within 48 hours there is greater potential for mould growth on them
    • Items, such as: insulation, drywall, carpets, particleboard furniture, beds toys and cushions, that have had contact with flood waters and cannot be dried should be discarded.
  • Clean and dry out your house and salvageable possessions
    • Use fans, heaters and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process to prevent the growth of mould
    • Vacuum surfaces that are dry and/or have not been directly affected by the flood waters with HEPA vacuum cleaner

For directions and information on how to treat areas affected by mould visit our flood web page at

Creating Healthy Communities Together


For more information contact:

Lee Weiss,, Administrative Assistant.
519.524.8394 (ext 2019)
Our spokesperson is: Mike Park, Public Health Inspector. Our media contact will connect you to our spokesperson on this topic.