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  • Flooding - High Water

    Flooding – Be Prepared

    Be ready when the waters rise.

    Take a few simple steps to prevent floods around your home or business.

    Before the storm

    • Remove leaves, ice, snow and other debris away from any drains near street corners and low areas.
    • Dispose fallen leaves and other yard debris in compost areas, gardens or take to the landfill.
    • Direct downspouts at least 10 feet away from your home or business and clear gutters.
    • If you are in a flood-prone area, keep sandbags on hand.
    • Put chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, and engine oil on high shelves.
    • Is you have a septic system, keep it well maintained so that it will be prepared for the flood. Turn off power to the system and seal entry points if possible.

    Prepare for flooding

    • Know the safest route from your home or business. Plan a spot to meet. Remember your pets.
    • Keep a list of valuables, including personal property, in a safe location.
    • Create an emergency kit:
      • Food.*
      • Drinking water.*
      • Medicine/first aid.*
      • Pet food.
      • Flashlights.*
      • Radio.
      • Batteries.
      • Cooking equipment.

    *Keep extra in your vehicle. Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas.

    During the flood

    • Check the National Weather Service for updates.
    • Food service establishments must close if they flood. 
    • Follow evacuation advisories.
    • Watch for washed-out roads and downed power lines. Don’t drive over a flooded road.

    After the flood

    • Food establishments must follow these guidelines. Contact our Food Safety Program at or (253) 649-1417 to reopen.  
    • To prevent mold growth, remove moisture where possible. Open windows and doors and warm the house.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water. Don’t use contaminated water. Use an antibacterial hand sanitizer if soap and clean water are not available. 
    • Wear gloves and boots to clean up. Be sure your tetanus vaccine is up-to-date. Get a booster every 10 years.
    • Discard any food items that have been in contact with flood waters. 
    • Clean refrigerators or freezers that had contact with contaminated water with a bleach solution (1 cup bleach per gallon of water) and wipe clean after 1 minute.

    If you get water from a well

    • Material carried by the flood can contaminate drinking water. Use bottled water or boil well water for 3 to 5 minutes before:
      • Drinking.
      • Brushing teeth.
      • Washing dishes.
      • Preparing food.
    • If you can’t boil or buy water, use household bleach.
      • If the water is clear, use 8 drops per gallon of water.
      • If the water is cloudy, use 16 drops per gallon of water.
      • After adding the bleach to the water, wait 30 minutes to use.  
    • Flush and chlorinate your well. Use a certified laboratory to test your water for bacteria.

    If you have a septic system

    • Stay out of the area if sewage backs up. 
    • Don’t pump the septic tank. Pumping the tank could cause it to break, float or could damage inlet and outlet pipes.
    • Don’t put water from a basement sump pump into the septic system or onto the drainfield.
    • Take fewer showers or baths.
    • Don’t use the washing machine or dishwasher.