Quick Tips: Basic Health Safety - EH: Minnesota Department of Health


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Fact Sheets for Disasters: Basic Health Safety


Scrub hands often with soap and water. Then use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if it is available. Wash hands:

  • Before touching food or your face;
  • After using a toilet;
  • After touching items touched by flood water or sewage;
  • After flood cleanup; and
  • Dry off with paper towels if you have them, then throw towels out.

Clean Surfaces that Hold Food

Do all four steps to clean surfaces:

  1. Use soap and warm, safe water;
  2. Rinse with safe water;
  3. Soak 1 minute with a mix of 1 Tablespoon household chlorine bleach per gallon of safe water;
  4. Allow to air dry.

Food Safety

Do not eat – throw out – food that may be unsafe:

  • Food likely to spoil;
  • Food and containers of food and drink that may have been in contact with flood water, including unopened cans and bottles with screw caps and “pop tops;” and
  • Food with an odd odor, color, or feel.

When in doubt, throw it out!

Drinking Water

If your water well has been flooded, it is most likely not safe to drink.

  • Use only water from a known, safe source for drinking, cooking, making ice or baby formula, dishwashing, or brushing teeth.
  • The safest water choices at this time are bottles of water you buy at a store or water boiled at a rolling boil for at least one minute. Local officials may have more information.
  • Use caution if you use flooded well water for bathing. Showering is not advised.

Gasoline Powered Engines

  • Gasoline engines are used to pump water or make power. Always use them outside -- never indoors.
  • Use gasoline engines away from enclosed spaces. Do not use in garages, open windows, doors, vents, or air intakes.
  • These engines make poisonous gases like carbon monoxide. This deadly gas has no odor, color or taste. It can cause illness or death.

More Detailed Fact Sheets

Updated Monday, March 30, 2015 at 09:36AM