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Standing floodwater can spread disease, bring chemical hazards, and cause injuries. Take steps to protect yourself when returning to your flooded home and when cleaning your home.


  • Return to your home only after local authorities have said it is safe to do so
  • Stay out of floodwater which may contain things that harm health and can create unsafe conditions
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and clean water and immediately following contact with flood water or contaminated objects or surfaces
  • Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning
    • Use generators outdoors and at least 20 feet away from any doors, windows, or vents
  • Protect Yourself When Cleaning (Infographic)
flooded stairs


  • Before you enter your home make sure:
      • Your home has been verified safe by a qualified professional
      • The electricity is off
  • Wait to pump water out from your basement until floodwater outside your home has gone away

Click Here for more information on House Safety Tips before entering your home


  • Use safe, clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing
    • Do not drink floodwater, or use it to wash dishes, brush teeth, wash or prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.
    • Click here for more information on clean, safe, water.
  • If you have a private well and live in an area with flooding, get your water tested before you use it
    • Do not drink or wash with water from the flooded well until it is tested and safe to use
    • Wait until the floodwater has gone away to test your well
      • Contact the Winnebago County Health Department at 815-720-4100 for information on when to test your well after a flood
    • Do not turn on the well pump due to danger of electric shock
    • For more information on private wells after a flood, click here
image of a sump pump


Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells, and tastes normal. When in doubt, throw it out!

  • Throw away foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages
  • Throw away any food, even bottled water, that may have come into contact with floodwater
  • Throw away food with an unusual odor, color, or texture
  • Clean and sanitize food-contact surfaces that have been flooded
  • For more information, visit Keep Food Safe After a Disaster or Emergency
image of a trash can with vegetable scraps inside


  • Make sure to wear protection for your eyes, nose, mouth, and skin when cleaning-up mold
    • Do not mix cleaning products together
  • Dry your home out as soon as possible to prevent mold
    • Air out your home by opening doors and windows
    • Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture. Fans should be placed at a window or door to blow the air outwards rather than inwards, so not to spread the mold
  • Toss out anything that was wet with flood water and can’t be cleaned and dried in 48 hours. Take pictures of discarded items for filling insurance claims
  • Wait to paint or caulk until all mold has been removed and cleaned
  • Click here for a shopping list for mold cleanup
  • Click here for mold clean-up resources


If you have an open wound:

  • Avoid contact with flood waters
  • If you were in floodwater impacted areas, be evaluated by a healthcare professional to determine if a tetanus immunization/booster is needed
  • For more guidance on wound care, go to the CDC website here
Emergency wound care after a natural disaster


Think Safe Sand Removal. As the flood waters go away, safely remove sandbags:

  • Be careful of slipping and tripping when working around wet sandbags
  • Wear gloves and boots for protection from abrasions and possible contaminants
  • Do NOT use the sand from sandbags to fill children’s sand boxes or playgrounds, as it is not high-quality sand and the sand may have been contaminated
  • Do NOT dispose of the sand in a wetland, flood plain, waterway or any other sensitive area
sand bags for flooding


As you work to clean-up from the flood, know that there maybe resources and services available to help in neighborhoods impacted by the flood.