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Build 2000


Peterborough County-City Health Unit Sanitation Instructions for People with Flooding Damage

Friday, July 16 -- 7: 40 A.M.

Peterborough, Ont. — Dr. Garry Humphreys, Peterborough Medical Officer of Health has issued instructions to ensure that occupants of flooded premises do not become infected from disease.

They are:

  • After you have removed water from the premises, take out remaining mud and debris by scraping and washing;
  • Place the removed mud and debris outside, at least 50 feet from any well (if there is no piped-in municipal water supply). Keep the debris away from any area used by a private sewage disposal system.
  • Wash and disinfect your premises and furniture thoroughly using safe, clean water.

How to disinfect:

  • Wash floors, walls, and cellars by washing and brushing with a sodium hypochlorite solution. You can prepare this solution by adding one tsp. of household bleach to an eight quarts pail of water (follow the directions on the package is you are using other chlorine compounds.)
  • Scour furniture with soap and water and then place in the sun to dry out.
  • Air out the house thoroughly and dry it out after disinfecting and cleaning before you start living in it again.
  • Pay particular attention to materials that can rot and to filth. Remove as quickly as possible because in warm weather these materials become breeding places for insects and rodents.

For drugs, medicines and animal foods:

  • Destroy drugs and medicines that have been in contact with floodwaters.
  • Do not attempt to replace loosened labels from drugs.
  • Throw out unlabelled drugs and medicines. Do not leave them where children can find them.
  • Animal foods – call the department of agriculture or a veterinarian for advice.

Electrical hazards

Do not try to use or operate any electrical appliances until your house wiring and equipment has been officially inspected and found safe.  Call the Peterborough Utilities at 748-6900 to arrange for safe reconnections.

Heating Hazards

Ensure the heating system is safe before using it again. Three main hazards to heating systems after a flood are explosion, suffocation from fumes and fire.


  • Check canned food closely for leaks and swelling. Pay particular attention to seams and joints for signs of erosion. Discard home preserves that show any evidence of contamination around sealed tops. There is a danger with jars in particular because they often seem safe.
  • Soft foods – Throw out meat and dairy products if there is any evidence they have come into contact with floodwaters or if the hydro has been off for more than a few hours.
  • Wrapped foods – food in moisture-proof wrappers should be removed and re-wrapped in fresh wrap. Throw out any food where the wrapping has leaked.

Food handling and preparation equipment

  • Thoroughly clean and scour all equipment with a disinfectant solution. Use a chlorine solution of up to 400 p.p.m. (one to four tablespoons of household bleach to one gallon of clean water.) or immerse in boiling water for at least one minute.

Sewage disposal

  • Do not use septic tanks in recently flooded areas until the disposal field has dried out. If you think it is necessary have your septic tank checked.
  • If you continue to have septic drainage problems after drying out the system consult a licensed installer.

General Clean-up

After you have cleaned up your buildings remove flood debris from yards. Rake up all combustible materials and dispose of safely.



Tom Cathcart, Director, Health Protection Division, Peterborough County City Health Unit, 743-1000

Posted July 16, 2004

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