How to Stay Safe After a House Flood

Written by admin, April 23, 2014

April 23, 2014 – Indoor Air Quality and Mould Concerns Are Your Top Priority

With the increased risk of local flooding in the area, Peterborough Public Health is offering the following cleanup tips to ensure you and your family stay safe and healthy following a house flood.

“Immediate action is important.  Your house and furnishings are less likely to grow mould if they are dried within 48 hours,” said Wanda Tonus, Public Health Inspector. “You should clean up any mould that may be present to make sure your indoor air quality stays safe.  However before you get started it is most important to ensure that you stay safe.”

Immediately after a flood:

  • Avoid electrical shock
    • Wear rubber boots at all times while standing in water
    • Keep extension cords out of the water
    • Shut the power off to the flooded area at the breaker box
    • Ask your local electrical utility for help if needed
  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector
    • Do not use combustion equipment designed for outdoor use inside your home

If the flood involves sewage-contaminated water from a sewer backflow or other source you must take special precautions. There is a very real and significant danger of infection from breathing the air in an area contaminated by sewage and from handling water and materials contaminated by sewage. Children, pregnant women and people with respiratory problems should never handle water and materials contaminated by sewage. Household items that have been contaminated by sewage, or that have been wet for a long time, may have to be bagged, tagged and discarded according to local regulations. Contact Public Health if you suspect sewage contamination.  A more thorough disinfection procedure will be needed, as well as greater precaution to avoid exposure of family members and pets. 

A new fact sheet from Health Canada entitled “Flood Cleanup: Keep in Mind Indoor Air Quality” provides a step-by-step action plan to:

  • prepare for the cleanup
  • remove water, mud and other debris
  • dispose of contaminated household goods
  • clean and dry out your house and salvageable possessions.

To address ongoing dampness at home and indoor air quality concerns, Health Canada has also created another fact sheet entitled “Addressing Moisture and Mould in Your Home”.

Both fact sheets are available on in the section for My Home & Environment under “Air Quality – Indoor”.




For further information, please contact:

Wanda Tonus
Public Health Inspector
(705) 743-1000, ext. 285