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Health Department cautions residents of floodwater dangers

Post Date:09/20/2019 4:01 PM

Woodstock IL – With the recent flooding from heavy rains and more rain expected, residents are advised that flood water can contaminate food and drinking water. To avoid getting a waterborne illness, the McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) recommends that residents affected by flooding visit the Department’s webpage:  for flood information related to the clean-up of solid waste, water wells and septic. Common water-borne illness symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Never allow children to play in flood waters, and seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms after exposure to flood waters. Persons who come in contact with flood water and have open wounds should be sure they’ve had a tetanus shot within the last 10 years. For a tetanus booster contact your health care provider. MCDH also offers tetanus vaccine boosters. Call 815-334-4500 for information.

A private water well which has been submerged must be considered contaminated and unsafe to drink for cooking, drinking, preparing food, baby formula or brushing teeth. Obtain bottled water or bring tap water to a rolling boil for at least 5 minutes before use. The Health Department will perform free testing of flooded private water wells for coliform bacteria after the flood waters have receded and the well has been flushed and disinfected. See the Department’s Frequently Asked Questions “About Water Wells and Flood Clean-Up” for additional information.

To prevent the spread of disease, always wash your hands with warm water and soap before handling, preparing, or eating food. Be sure to disinfect food preparation surfaces that may have been contaminated by flood water. Food or beverage containers should be carefully examined. Flooded, non-permeable surfaces of indoor areas (walls, floors, etc.) must be scrubbed with warm, soapy water. Wash linens and clothing in hot water or dry clean. If there is sewage backup and the drains are connected to the sewer system, then it can be disposed of by pumping it into the toilet or floor drains. Never pump sewage-contaminated water into the yard or into the street. 

Details on clean up and disinfection is available at the Environmental Health section of or by calling 815-334-4585.

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