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Prepare and Respond - Floods

Public Health Preparedness
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Flood Safety Guidelines

  • Assume all flood water is contaminated and KEEP CHILDREN AND ANIMALS OUT OF THE WATER.  Do not swim or bathe in rivers, streams, creeks or lakes in flooded areas!
  • Do not wade into standing water in your basement unless you are sure the electricity to your home is off.
  • When in doubt about your drinking water or if your drinking water is CLOUDY, ODOROUS, COLORED – DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!  Also do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food or to make ice.
  • Minimize skin exposure by wearing rubber boots and gloves and keep children and pets away from flood contaminated surfaces.
  • As soon as the water is drained away all wet items should be cleaned and thoroughly dried within 48 hours of flooding to prevent the growth of mold.
  • When cleaning, items should first be washed with soap and water to remove visible debris and dirt. A disinfecting solution of ½ to ¾ cup household bleach to 1 gallon of water should then be applied to the surface and allowed to air dry.
  • Promptly fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing to eliminate moisture that could promote mold growth.
  • Discard wet carpet, rugs, and upholstery that cannot be easily cleaned to prevent mold growth.
  • Try to maintain the humidity level in your home between 40% and 60% to prevent mold growth.

Prepare for a Flood

Flood Clean-up


Floods along Wisconsin rivers and streams can pose a potential health danger for private well users if wells are flooded. Well owners whose wells become flooded need to have the well tested before resuming use of the water. Floodwaters can contain bacteria and waste contaminants that threaten water supplies. Wells located in pits and basements are especially susceptible to such contamination.  Any water supply system which has been overtopped by flood waters should be thoroughly disinfected and then tested to determine water safety. This work is best performed by licensed well drillers or pump installers. Wells should be disinfected with a strong chlorine solution or chlorine tablets. The chlorine must come into direct contact with all interior surfaces of the well, from top to bottom and throughout the distribution plumbing. The solution should remain in the system for 24 hours and then flushed from the system. Then a water sample can be collected and submitted for bacteriological testing. Information about how to chlorinate your well is available from DNR customer service centers and on the DNR website at: dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/pubs/dg/dg0003.pdf.

Waupaca County Health Services may be able to provide sample kits for testing wells that have been flooded.  Contact us at 715-258-6300. 


Contact Information

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