The Burlington County Health Department has three recommendations for the public to help ensure their safety: 1) Boil water if your well was under water 2) Remember food safety tips if your power was out and 3) Follow safety guidelines when cleaning flooded areas.
The Burlington County Health Department is recommending that well owners, whose wells were impacted by flood water, boil their water before use. The water should be brought to a full ROLLING boil for at least 5 minutes. Water from a well that has been submerged in flood water should be assumed to be contaminated. Do not use the well water for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, or even personal washing until you are satisfied that the water is not contaminated. Once the water has receded, the well will need to be disinfected by a certified well driller. Once the well has been treated it will need to be tested to ensure that it is safe to drink. More information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/wellsdisinfect.html. Finally, we are recommending that all county residents avoid lakes and other recreational bathing areas that were flooded (do not swim in flood waters or flooded areas) until the water at these sites can be tested to ensure that they are safe for you to swim in.
The Burlington County Health Department is also providing some tips on food safety. If your refrigerator or freezer may be without power for a long period keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 24 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. To be safe, remember, "When in doubt, throw it out." Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
Discard all food affected by flood waters including canned goods. It is impossible to know if containers were damaged and the seal compromised. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers. There is no way to safely clean such flood-contaminated items. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water. For more information on safe food handling after a flood please visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/foodwater/facts.html.
When cleaning up an area affected by flood waters, wash your hands and face often with drinking quality water. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing, foot wear and equipment (i.e. goggles, masks and gloves) when cleaning. Finally, if you are injured during the cleanup process be sure to clean the wound and talk to your provider about getting a tetanus shot.
Further information can be found on the Health Department website at www.co.burlington.nj.us/health. For additional questions on the above topics please call the Burlington County Health Department at 609-265-5548.