With flooding occurring along the Pend Oreille and Kettle Rivers and with more impacts expected, there is a high likelihood that homes along the rivers will be impacted by the flood water. Public health officials are providing health and safety recommendation to homeowners should their property be impacted.
It is best to assume that all floodwater is contaminated with disease causing organisms such as bacteria and viruses. As a result, staff at Northeast Tri County Health District (NETCHD) are advising some basic health and safety precautions be taken when preparing for or returning home after a flood. NETCHD is ready to assist affected property owners in how to keep themselves healthy when cleaning up after the floodwaters have subsided, what steps should be taken in cleaning homes, and what to do if their well and septic system have been flooded.
Important health considerations where flooding has occurred include:
- Basic personal health protection. Wear waterproof boots and gloves to help avoid skin contact with floodwater, wash hands often, be current on your tetanus vaccination, and protect open wounds from floodwater.
Clean and dry out your home to disinfect and prevent mold growth. In most cases, household cleaning products will be adequate for cleaning. Items that cannot be washed and disinfected may have to be discarded. Remove as much moisture as possible quickly to help control mold growth.
Eat and drink only food and water that are safe. Wells that have been flooded should be disinfected and tested before being used for drinking water. NETCHD has specific guidance on the process to disinfect a drinking water well.
Evaluate a septic system if it has been flooded. Don’t put the system back in use until after the flood waters have receded and an evaluation of the system is made.
NETCHD has detailed information available about preparing for a flood and what to do after a flood. This information is available at any of their offices and is on their website at www.netchd.org. Staff will also be available to assist in providing recommendations and consultation. Upon request, staff will also be available to visit properties after the floodwaters recede to assist homeowners in recovery recommendations.
• Colville – Stevens County: 509-684-2262
• Newport – Pend Oreille County: 509-447-3131
• Republic – Ferry County: 509-775-3111