IONIA, Mich. — Ionia County health officials warned residents Monday that floodwaters can pose a health threat in addition to being an inconvenience and offered safety tips as a result.
During a flood event, sewage runoff and overflow from lakes, rivers and streams may carry bacteria such as E. coli, protozoa like Giardia and viruses like Hepatitis, according to a news release.
If surface water enters a well, it may contaminate the water a household relies on for drinking.
The health department may issue a precautionary boil water notice through local media.
Those who notice flood waters have reached their well, any change in appearance or taste of the water or if they’re just unsure about the safety of the water, they’re advised to boil all water used for drinking, making beverages, cooking, brushing teeth, washing dishes and washing areas of the skin that have been cut or injured.
Water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute and then cooled as necessary.
Bottled water can also be used for all these purposes.
Wells that have been flooded remain unsafe even after flooding has subsided, according to the Ionia County Health Department.
Residents will need to disinfect and then sample their wells.
Health officials also offered tips for residents whose basements have flooded.
- Make sure gas and electricity are turned off. Do not go into a flooded basement with the electricity still on.
- Keep everyone out of the flooded area, as there may be raw sewage in the flood water, making it very hazardous.
- Do not flush toilets, as the contents of the toilet could end up in the flooded basement.
- Wash hands with clean or disinfected warm or hot water and plenty of soap. Be sure to wash under rings and under fingernails.
- Throw out all food and drinks that have been touched by flood water. Never taste food that has been exposed to flood water.
- Use flashlights – never lanterns, matches or lighters.
- Wear rubber gloves and waders or boots.
- Cover all open sores or cuts with an adhesive bandage.
- Make sure all windows are open to provide ventilation.
- Residents may want to take pictures for insurance purposes.
- Remove damaged items from the flooded area.
- Cleaning and disinfection instructions may be found on the CDC’s website here.