Press release from River Stone Health
Billings, MT – With the Yellowstone River and other southern Montana rivers flooding this week, RiverStone Health encourages everyone to be prepared to protect your health from flood waters.
Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services has advised RiverStone Health that anyone needing sandbags for their property should contact their local fire department. If you live near a river or stream, stay up to date on flood advisories and be prepared to evacuate.
Flood water presents risks not usually found in our rivers and streams. In the course of flooding, this water may be contaminated with raw sewage, trash, household or automotive chemicals.
Any food that has been in contact with flood water should be thrown out. The only exception is food in unopened, commercially sealed packages or metal cans. Clean and disinfect all packages and cans before opening.
Power outages resulting from flooding can spoil food. If your refrigerator has been without power for six hours or longer, throw away any food that requires refrigeration.
If your water supply comes from a well, cistern or spring that has been flooded, don’t use the water until the flood recedes and you have your water source tested and then disinfected, if needed. While waiting to test your well or cistern, use bottled water for drinking, food preparation, handwashing and cleanup.
If you have a septic system and the area around your home has flooded, your septic tank may fill with water or your drain field may become saturated and unable to drain. Don’t use or flush your toilet until you know that the septic tank and sewer pipes are intact. After flood water has receded and the water table has dropped, septic tanks that flooded should be professionally pumped. A list of licensed Yellowstone County septic contractors is posted at RiverStoneHealth.org. Click on Inspections & Permits and then click on Septic Permits & Subdivision Review.
Wear protective clothing and gloves when cleaning flooded homes to protect yourself from contaminants in flood water and beware of possible electrical hazards.
Detailed information on protecting your health during floods is posted at RiverStoneHealth.org. Click on Public Health & Preventing Disease and then on Emergency Preparedness. This link includes directions for properly disinfecting food packages, tips for temporarily keeping food safely cold, cleaning up after floods and safe water.
If you have questions about flooding health risks, please call RiverStone Health Environmental Health Services at 406.256.2770.