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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cleaning up after a storm

As a result of the recent severe weather conditions, several local communities have been affected by flooding and power outages. Public Health Sudbury & Districts is offering the following food safety and flood cleanup tips to affected residents.
Food safety
? During a power outage avoid opening refrigerators and freezers unless absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for approximately 48 hours, while a freezer that is half full will keep food frozen for about 24 hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately 4 hours.
? If a power outage is expected to last for a long period of time, consider taking your food to a nearby friend or family member’s house that is unaffected by the power outage to keep it cold.
? After a power outage, carefully inspect all hazardous food items and do not consume any food you think might not be safe.
? Discard any food items in the refrigerator or freezer that have come in contact with raw meat juices.
? Discard perishable foods such as milk and milk products, eggs, meat, and poultry, fish and shellfish that have been unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours and any food with an unusual odour or texture.
? Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat as long as the food still contains ice crystals or is at or below 4°C.
? If a food storage area is flooded, only undamaged, commercially-prepared foods in sealed, unopened, airtight, waterproof cans, jars, or waterproof pouches are entirely safe to use. However, these cans, jars or pouches must be carefully inspected, cleaned, and disinfected before use.
? Keep in mind that food contaminated with bacteria might not look or smell spoiled—when in doubt, throw it out!
Cleaning up after a flood or sewage backup
? Residents with flooded basements should call their insurance company if they haven’t already done so.
? Residents are also advised not to enter flooded basements where electrical panels may be affected by the water. DO NOT attempt to shut off electricity if any water is present.
? Keep your emergency kit close at hand and prepare ahead of time for any potential power outages.
? Take the appropriate safety measures when dealing with flooding to prevent illness and injury to yourself and others.
? Restore your home to good order as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage to the house and its contents.
? For detailed information on remediation and cleaning, please visit our website:
Wells and septic systems
? Important precautions need to be taken if a private well might be contaminated. In the short-term, to make it safe, water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for drinking; brushing teeth; making infant formula, juices, and ice; or using it for washing foods such as fruit and vegetables that will be eaten raw.
? Once the flood recedes, wells should be disinfected by adding bleach to them. Well water can be used without boiling once the well has been disinfected and two consecutive, satisfactory laboratory test results are received for the well water.
? Septic systems do not work properly when the area is flooded or the ground is saturated with water. Septic systems should not be used if this is the case. The power to any pumps or other electrical equipment should be disconnected. Silt should be prevented from entering the pump chamber and septic tank.
? After the floodwater recedes and the soil is no longer saturated, the septic tank should be pumped.
? Pump chambers and electrical connections should be checked before using the system.
? Flooding will not normally harm a septic system, but if damage to the tank or bed is suspected, a licensed septic installer should be contacted.

Individuals affected by a power outage who require at home electronic medical devices are encouraged to contact their health care providers for direction. In case of emergency, contact 911.

For more information on food safety and flood remediation, or to speak with a public health inspector, please call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at (705) 522-9200, ext. 398 or visit
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