Hurricanes and Floods: Food and Water Safety


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Be Prepared:

  • Keep liquid unscented household bleach on hand.
  • Store food, water, and medication on shelves that will be safely out of the way if there is flooding.
  • Keep on hand 7 day’s worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not need refrigeration or heating.
  • Have on hand at least 2 quarts (1/2 gallon) of water for drinking per person per day (about 4 gallons per person for 7 days).
  • Know what to do if there is a power outage.

When flooding occurs:

  • Use bottled water that was not exposed to flooding, if possible
  • If bottled water is not available, boil water for at least one minute, let it cool, and store in clean, covered containers.
  • If bottled water is not available and boiling is not possible, add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops) of regular, unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Stir and let it stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine smell. If not, repeat the dosage and let it stand for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Do not drink water from a well that has been flooded unless the water has been tested and shown to be safe for drinking.

Food Safety:

  • Do not eat food that has been exposed to flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Do not eat food from non-waterproof containers or damaged cans, e.g. plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth.
  • Thoroughly wash, rinse, and sanitize all non-damaged metal cans, ceramic dishes, and utensils and counter tops. (Use 1 Tablespoon household bleach in 1 gallon of water).


Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration