June 30, 2005
With the recent severe weather across the province, Albertans are encouraged to take steps to protect their homes from flooding, and properly clean up afterwards.
Floodwater may be contaminated and could pose a health hazard, so proper clean-up is essential. If you suspect sewage contamination:
- Contact your regional health authority, and follow their recommendations for using respirators, special clothing or other protective measures.
- Do not try to save carpets, clothing or bedding that have been exposed to sewage.
- Dispose of sewage-contaminated materials in tagged heavy-duty garbage bags.
- Remember that the only safe flood-exposed foods are those in sealed metal cans, and even these should only be used if the cans have not been dented. Thoroughly clean all undamaged cans before opening, using a brush to clean around the rims and caps.
When cleaning up after a flood, focus on:
- removing water as soon as possible,
- cleaning out mud and other debris,
- throwing out everything that can't be saved, and
- washing and rinsing all surfaces, then disinfecting them (household liquid chlorine bleach is an effective disinfectant for most bacteria and fungi, including mold).
- More information (pdf)
When hiring for repairs after a flood:
- beware of unsolicited door-to-door offers;
if the contractor wants payments upfront, check their licence online or by calling Government Services' Consumer Information Centre toll-free at 1-877-427-4088;
- check references and contact local Better Business Bureaus and homebuilders associations (see sidebar),
- have friends or neighbours recommend professional and reliable contractors,
get several estimates and ensure contracts are detailed in writing.
- More information (pdf)
There are a number of things individuals can do to prepare for severe weather, including:
- removing valuable items from basements and garages,
- securing personal documents like mortgage papers, medical records, insurance policies, etc., and
- preparing a 72-hour emergency kit with food, water and items like medications and pet food.
Where flooding is occurring, listen to the radio for the latest storm information and be prepared to evacuate if required. If you are asked to leave the area, do so immediately. When driving during a flood:
- Do not drive through water unless you are certain the road is safe and the water is no higher than the wheels of your vehicle.
- Drive slowly to avoid splashing water on the engine and stalling it.
- Watch for damaged roads, loose or downed wires and fallen objects on the road.
- If you encounter a barricade, go another way.
The Alberta government continues to work closely with municipalities in southern Alberta to ensure the ongoing safety and security of residents and their property. As part of this process, the province coordinates the availability of items like front-end loaders, sandbags and rescue boats to help provide the quickest response possible.