Safety Recommendations for Possible Flooded Areas Issued by Health Department

For Immediate Release: August 13, 2004

Contact: Larry Crist
Director of Health Protection
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON - The Vermont Department of Health is issuing drinking water and food safety recommendations regarding potential flooding that may result from heavy rains this coming weekend.

“We are advising people with drinking water wells in areas prone to flooding to assume that their water may become contaminated,” said Larry Crist, director of health protection for the Vermont Department of Health.

People should take precautions to protect their health if any of the following conditions occur:

Residents who observe any of the above conditions should contact their local district office of the Vermont Department of Health for disinfection instructions. District office location information can be found on the health department’s website at

“If you think your well water has become contaminated, boil it for one minute to make it safe for drinking, cooking, making juice or ice, washing fruits and vegetables or brushing teeth — or use bottled water,” Crist said. “This should be done until the water is disinfected and a water test confirms that the water is safe.”

Other areas of potential concern:

Food – Do not eat any food that may come into contact with floodwater unless you can clean and cook it thoroughly, health officials said. If in doubt, throw it out.

Gardens – If garden produce comes into contact with floodwaters, discard any fruit or vegetables that cannot be washed AND cooked prior to consumption. This includes produce like lettuce, spinach, strawberries, and peas or beans to be eaten raw. Root crops like carrots should be safe to eat if thoroughly washed.

Cleanup – If there has been a back flow of sewage into the house, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup. Disinfect food contact surfaces with 1/2 cup of bleachi in one gallon of water.

Recreation – Sewage may enter streams and rivers in flooded areas, making them unsafe for swimming.