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Disaster Readiness and Emergency Safety Tips

NSF offers tips and information for those who are now cleaning up after natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey

Use these tips to prepare when a storm is brewing as well as for recovery after the storm.

Before a Natural Disaster

  • Find alternative sources of water:
    • Certified bottled water in factory-sealed containers and more facts about bottled water
    • Rainwater collected in clean, food-grade storage containers; boil before drinking to kill bacteria
    • Water from the freshwater storage tank behind the toilet (not the bowl) can be used if boiled first
  • Review disaster readiness tips including a disaster supply checklist

After a Natural Disaster

NSF offers these helpful tips for water treatment, clean-up, sanitation and food safety:

  • Emergency Drinking Water Treatment
    • Boil water to destroy most bacteria, cysts and viruses
    • Use purification tablets, certified distillers, filters and reverse osmosis units
    • Use liquid, not granular, household bleach, following these instructions from the EPA website
  • Cleaning Up After a Flood and Sanitation in Disaster Situations
    • Avoid pushing dirt or bacteria further into your home by starting the cleaning process where food is prepared and work outward into the rest of the home
    • Sanitize using a bleach/water mixture or other sanitizing agent specifically formulated to kill germs and bacteria
    • Have septic systems pumped and checked after flooding subsides
    • Use certified water filters on faucets to ensure contaminants are reduced in drinking water
  • Emergency Food Safety Tips
    • Discard all food that came in contact with flood waters, including canned goods
    • Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers as there is no way to safely clean and sanitize them
    • Wash heat-resistant dishes and cookware in a certified dishwasher on the sanitizing cycle or by hand and dip them in a solution of one capful of bleach and one gallon of water

Contact NSF if you have any additional questions.

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