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Rising waters at Wasa prompts Interior Health advisory

 

Recent heavy rainfall and increased snowmelt has caused Wasa Lake to rise, prompting the calling in of an automatic sandbagging unit as well as a forestry crew.

“We have another 4000 sandbags on the way out and a 30-member Forestry Crew in the community today helping with filling and placing sandbags,” says RDEK Information Officer, Loree Duczek. “We also have RDEK staff in the community today doing a broad assessment of how many properties are being affected by high water levels.”

Including the shipment this morning, over 10,000 sandbags have been made available to Wasa residents and property owners over the past three days as water levels continue a slow rise in the wake of heavy rains earlier in the week.

High water is creating potential risks to area wells and sewage disposal systems. Interior Health is advising residents and visitors to Wasa Lake to take steps to ensure their food and water are safe.

Drinking Water Safety

• For residents who are on a community water system: Questions about the quality of drinking water should be directed to the local water supplier (e.g. municipality, utility provider, etc.).  These suppliers are best able to assess how their systems have been affected and whether there is any impact on the quality of drinking water.

• For residents on private systems or individual wells that suspect their water supply has been affected or contaminated by the flood: Water should be boiled or an alternative source of drinking water should be used until the water source can be assessed or tested.  For information on having your private water source tested, please refer to the list of Provincial Health Officer Approved Drinking Water Testing Laboratories: http://www.phsa.ca/AgenciesAndServices/Services/PHSA-Labs/Testing-Requisitions/Environmental/Enhanced-Water-QA/default.htm or check your telephone directory’s  yellow pages under Laboratories – Analytical.

Food Safety

The following precautions should be taken when food has come into contact with floodwaters:

• Food that has come into contact with floodwaters should be destroyed unless it has been packaged in waterproof containers that can be easily cleaned and sanitized. It is hard to make food that has been directly exposed to flood waters safe to eat. Washing and sanitizing food cannot be done well enough in most cases.  Normal cooking temperatures may not be enough to destroy disease causing bacteria and viruses if the food has been heavily contaminated.

• Never eat or drink uncooked foods exposed to flood waters, including raw foods you have tried to wash and sanitize. Perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products should always be thrown out.

• Strict sanitary actions must be followed when handling foods that have been exposed to flood waters. Remember to wash your hands often.

• If you have been cleaning up after a flood, always wash your hands well before eating.

If in doubt - Throw it out!

• Canned goods should be thrown away if the seal is damaged, the can is bloated, or the contents show signs of seepage. Cans in good condition should only be opened after the label has been taken off and the can has been washed well in warm soapy water then put into a sanitizing mixture.  A sanitizing mixture can be made by mixing 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) of 5 to 6 per cent household bleach to 1 gallon of water (40 mL of household bleach to 1 litre of water). Remember to clearly mark the contents on the can if it will not be used right away after washing and sanitizing.

• Previously opened bottled food and drink products should be thrown out because it is very hard to clean under the caps. Unopened bottles should be discarded if the contents show signs of seepage.

• All contaminated utensils, dishes and food contact surfaces, such as cutting boards and counter tops should be washed with warm soapy water and then sanitized.

• If you have had a power outage for more than four hours please refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s document - Food Safety in an Emergency at http://www.inspection.gc.ca.

Septic Systems

• Septic systems can be affected by flood waters as water levels rise. You can minimize the impact by reducing the amount of water handled by your system. Should flooding of your septic field and tank area occur, there is very little that can be done. Discontinue use of your system and do not pump your septic tank until such time that floodwaters have receded and groundwater has returned to normal levels.

For more information:

Interior Health Emergency Preparedness webpage: http://www.interiorhealth.ca/YourEnvironment/EmergencyPreparedness/Pages/default.aspx

HealthLink BC - Clean Up Following a Flood:

http://www.bchealthguide.org/healthfiles/hfile20.stm

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