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Press Release - 5/18/2018

Environmental Health Officials Urge Residents to Take Health and Safety Precautions during Heavy Rain Event

Media Contact:

Tammy L. Griffin 

443-880-1418 (cell) 

410-219-7480 (office) 
Friday, May 18, 2018   
Environmental Health Officials Urge Residents to Take Health and Safety Precautions during Heavy Rain Event         
Salisbury, MD – The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for the Wicomico and surrounding lower shore counties.  Wicomico County Health Department officials are reminding residents to take certain health and safety precautions should flooding or brief periods of utility shortages occur.  Residents should make every effort to limit contact with any potential flood water due to the possibility of contamination associated with raw sewage and other hazardous materials.   
Property owners with wells located in flood prone areas should ensure wells have been fitted with a flood proof cap.  If a well is not tightly capped, sediment and flood waters may enter and contaminate the well. Wells more than 10 years old or less than 50 feet deep are likely to be contaminated, even if there is no apparent damage.   If a well is subjected to flooding, residents should be aware that the well may not be a safe source of water for many months after flooding occurs. A well can become contaminated with bacteria or other contaminants. Residents may need to take long-range precautions, including repeated testing, to protect the safety of their drinking water. 
If you have an individual well and suspect floodwaters have entered your well: 
• Do not turn on the pump.  There is a danger of electrical shock and damage to the well; 
• Do not drink or wash with well water.  Drinking or washing with water from a private well that has been flooded and not properly disinfected may cause illness; 
• Assume the well is contaminated; 
• Check electrical components; 
• Check pump operation and remove debris prior to sustained use of pump; 
• Pump off any muddy or cloudy water until the water is clear, but do not allow the water to be discharged into your septic system; 
• Contact a licensed well driller to perform an emergency disinfection of the water system. 
• Do not use the sewage system until water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house.
Preventing illnesses from food borne contamination is another concern for health officials following flooding or periods of utility outages.  Residents should throw away any food that comes in contact with flood or storm water. Any canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged must be discarded, as well as any food with an unusual odor, color or texture.  Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is ≤ 41°F or below can be refrozen or cooked.   
Residents with concerns about the safety of their well water should contact the Health Department at (410) 546-4446 to have well water sampled and tested for contamination. For additional information on what you can do protect your well and keep your family safe from illness and injury following a flood visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov or call (410) 546-4446. 





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