Flood Water After a Disaster or Emergency

When returning to your home after a hurricane or flood, be aware that flood water may contain sewage. Protect yourself and your family by following these steps:

Inside the Home

  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.
  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
  • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers.
  • After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands).
    • Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of one-eighth (1/8th) teaspoon [~0.75 milliliters] of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of one-quarter (1/4th) teaspoon (~1.5 milliliters) of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent. It is recommended that a laundromat be used for washing large quantities of clothes and linens until your onsite waste-water system has been professionally inspected and serviced.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.

See also Reentering Your Flooded Home, Mold After a Disaster, and Cleaning and Sanitizing With Bleach after an Emergency.

Outside the Home

  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.
  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area.
  • Have your onsite waste-water system professionally inspected and serviced if you suspect damage.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands).
    • Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of one-eighth (1/8th) teaspoon [~0.75 milliliters] of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use solution of one-quarter (1/4th) teaspoon (~1.5 milliliters) of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Last Update

October 31, 2012
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