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What should you do with drinking water when there is severe flooding?

Severe floods can cause problems with the drinking water supply.

Foto: Colourbox.com
Foto: Colourbox.com

In areas affected by flooding, there is a risk that contaminated flood water can enter drinking water treatment plants and / or water pipes. There may also be interruptions in the water supply. 

Advice with problems with supply of drinking water:

  • People who get their water from drinking water plants where flood water may have penetrated are encouraged to boil all water for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth. Water from groundwater systems, wells, streams, rivers or lakes may be contaminated. If the municipality or water company has stated that the water is polluted, the water must be boiled. 
  • Boil discoloured water or water with unfamiliar odours before use for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth.
  • If the water supply is cut off, boil it when it returns. Continue to boil water until new information is given by the municipality. 
  • If the water supply is cut off for an extended period, drinking water can be collected from rainwater (from the roof, etc.) or from streams from non-contaminated areas. Avoid water from flooded rivers or water from streams that have passed through farmland or built-up areas. Boil all water collected in this way before use.
  • If it is not possible to boil water, use bleach or chlorine-based products for disinfection. Use 2 drops of bleach per litre of water (or 1 teaspoon per bucket). Stir well and let the water stand for at least half an hour before use. 
  • Evaluate water that is to be used for hand washing, personal hygiene, floor washing, etc., based on appearance and smell. Flood water can generally be used if the appearance and smell does not prevent its use.
  • Water that enters basements usually contains sewage and often comes up through the sewers. Take care when handling this water, wash thoroughly immediately afterwards and change clothing that becomes wet. When cleaning up once the basement is cleared, wear rubber gloves and avoid splashing water onto your face. Use disinfectant to clean floors, walls and other surfaces that have been wet; be aware that water may have penetrated the cladding and could reappear later.