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Well water, like water from public water companies, may become contaminated as a result of flooding. Hunterdon residents with questions about if their wells may have been affected and what disinfection procedures they should use should see the recommendations below. Also, depending on flood conditions, it might be necessary to check with the Hunterdon County Department of Health to determine what steps should be taken in specific geographic areas.
Recent flooding due to a hurricane may compromise or contaminate some water supplies, including the water coming from large public water companies. In these incidences, state and local officials usually monitor water quality very carefully to ensure that any potential contaminants are identified quickly and everyone is informed appropriately. In addition, water companies normally issue official advisories stating that consumers should boil or treat their water, use bottled water or other alternatives until water quality returns to a safe level.
If a public water company serves you, call your local water supplier to determine if the water is affected and if you need to boil or treat the water before using it for clean up and consumption.
The preferred method of treatment is boiling. Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Bring water to a full ROLLING boil for at least 1 minute to kill most infectious organisms. If boiling water is not possible (power outages) potentially contaminated water may be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets. However, this treatment will not kill parasitic organisms. To disinfect with chlorine mix six drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the solution thoroughly, and let stand for about thirty minutes. To disinfect using iodine put eight drops of 2% tincture of iodine in one quart of water. Allow the water to stand at least 30 minutes before it is used.
Disease transmission from contaminated water occurs principally by ingesting water. The major organisms of concern are parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and bacteria such as Shigella and E. coli. These organisms primarily affect the gastrointestinal system, causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting with or without fever. Most of these illnesses are not usually serious or life-threatening, except in the elderly or those immunocompromised.
If your hands have touched contaminated water, keep them away from your face. You shouldn't eat, smoke, or wipe your face until you have washed your hands in sanitary water. Disease organisms from contaminated water can enter your body orally.
Even if you consume potentially contaminated water from either a public water system or a private well before you were aware of the boil water advisory, the likelihood of becoming ill is very low. Anyone experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, with or without fever, should seek medical attention.
Contaminated water should NOT be used for drinking, making prepared drinks, ice making, brushing teeth, washing food or preparing food, or for pets. Water may be added to foods that will undergo a rolling boil for at least 1 minute.
Yes, but try to use a dishwasher if possible, and run on dry cycle or final rinse that exceeds 113 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes. If you have to wash dishes by hand, be sure to rinse dishes for a minute in dilute bleach (1 tablespoon per gallon of water). It is safe to wash clothes in potentially contaminated water.
It is not recommended that you shower, bathe or shave with potentially contaminated water as it could introduce the risk of swallowing the water. This is particularly a concern for children and disabled individuals who could accidentally ingest a quantity of water. Though the risk of illness is minimal, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are immuno-suppressed, or suffering from chronic illness may want to consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing
During an emergency period, vigorously wash your hands with soap and boiled, treated, or bottled water. If you cannot boil the water, be sure the water you use comes from a safe alternative source. If possible, use a waterless hand sanitizer.
There is not usually a need to give vaccines during flood-related events. In some cases (see below) a tetanus booster may be indicated.
Tetanus: Individuals exposed to flood waters with an open wound (not minor cuts and abrasions) who have not had a tetanus booster shot in 10 years should receive a tetanus booster. Mass vaccination of the general public and emergency responders is not recommended. Hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera: Since these diseases are unlikely to be transmitted under these circumstances, vaccination against them is not indicated. Hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera: Since these diseases are unlikely to be transmitted under these circumstances, vaccination against them is not indicated.
It is recommended that individuals participating in the cleanup of contaminated water sites protect themselves with protective clothing, including boots and gloves that are waterproof, and guard against injury by sharp objects. View Basement flooding information.