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Floodwater Guidelines



  • Wear boots and gloves when working in areas that have been flooded.
  • Be sure the main electrical switch is off before entering a flooded structure. Do not turn it back on until you are certain there has been no damage to wires or appliances connected to the electrical system.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, call 911. Then call PG&E at (800) 743-5000. Warn your neighbors of the potential problem.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. If you have children who have been in contact with the water, be sure they wash their hands, too.
  • Keep children and pets away from floodwaters and avoid outdoor areas that have been recently flooded. Remove shoes and wipe paws before returning indoors.
  • If you have open cuts or sores, protect them from the water. Keep them clean by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
  • If you swallow floodwater, you should see a physician immediately because of the risk of hepatitis A infection.
  • If you are uncertain about the quality of drinking water, use bottled water. Check with your local water provider for any boil water orders. If you have a domestic well, it may require disinfection if it was impacted by floodwaters. See guidelines here.
  • Don’t let children play with toys that have been in contact with floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. You can disinfect toys using a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • For general disinfection of surfaces, use a cloth soaked with 1 tablespoon of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • Contact your local sewer authority if solid waste from sewage is visible. 
  • Contact your insurance company for additional guidance if your home sustained water damage.
  • See more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on flood recovery.


  • Wash all clothing, bedding and linens in hot water or dry clean them.
  • For mattresses and upholstered furniture that cannot be dry cleaned or washed, air dry them in the sun and spray thoroughly with disinfectant like Lysol.


  • Clean walls, hard surfaced floors and other surfaces with soap and water. Disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach added to one gallon of water. Be especially careful to disinfect areas where food is stored or prepared, such as countertops, pantry shelves, refrigerator walls, and shelves.
  • Prevent water outdoors from reentering your home. Rainwater from gutters or the roof should drain away from the house; the ground around the house should slope away from the house to keep basements and crawl spaces dry.
  • Ensure that crawl spaces beneath structures and spaces beneath living units have proper drainage to limit standing water. Ventilate to allow the area to dry out.
  • 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 as not to spread the mold.
  • Thoroughly wash and disinfect all dishes, utensils, and food preparation equipment.
  • Steam clean any carpeting that can be saved.
  • Careless cleanup can do more harm than good by distributing fungus and bacteria which can grow on wet materials to other areas of the building and into heating and ventilation systems.
  • Contact your insurance company for additional guidance if your home sustained water damage.