Natural Disasters and Severe Weather
Environmental Health Division
Preparing for a Flood
Flooding can create many health risks, safety and environmental problems. Take precautions ahead of time to minimize these hazards. The best way to minimize health risks due to flood damage is to plan ahead. Remember that floodwaters are contaminated. Proper handling of items that contact floodwater can help avoid illness.
Consider flood insurance
Review your insurance policy. Standard insurance policies do not cover flood damage.
Protect your home or business
Survey your home or business for potential problems that may result if your home or business is flooded. Action taken ahead of time can minimize flood damage and may prevent or reduce exposure to health risks.
Prepare your fuel oil tank
If your basement is flooded, the water may get deep enough to cause your fuel oil tank to tip over or float to the surface. If the tank’s fill or vent pipes are not watertight, floodwater may enter and force fuel oil out of the tank.
If forecasts indicate potential flooding of your basement, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recommends:
- Contact a bulk fuel distributor to remove the fuel from the tank before flooding begins and plug its vent and fill pipes.
- If emptying a tank is not possible or practical, secure it to concrete anchors in the ground so they cannot float away.
- If the tank is no longer in service, remove the unused equipment, including all piping, and seal the vent and fill openings.
Relocate or properly dispose of household hazardous materials
Move household hazardous materials to areas that are likely to remain dry during the flood. Some of these items include:
- Motor oil
- Cleaning chemicals
- Drain cleaner
- Toilet bowl cleaner
Protect your well
MDH recommends the following steps if well owners think that their well may flood.
- Store a supply of clean water before taking the well out of service.
- Disconnect the power supply for the well. For help, call a licensed well contractor or pump installer.
- If time allows, have a licensed well contractor install a watertight seal, replacing the regular vented well cap or seal.
- If you don’t have time to have a professional install a water tight seal, clean off the outside of the well casing and cover the top of the well with a heavy-duty trash bag or some other form of heavy plastic sheeting. Secure the plastic covering with electrical tape or other waterproof tape or strapping material. Do not use duct tape.