Residents returning home as flood waters recede should be aware of a number of health concerns. Flood waters are contaminated. The Washington State Department of Health reminds residents there is a risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with flood water. If your power or water has been recently restored, do not assume the water is safe to drink. If your drinking water well is flooded, assume that the water in your home is contaminated and switch to bottled, disinfected or boiled water until your water is tested. Some tips: • Boil water for 3-5 minutes. Let the water cool before drinking. • To disinfect with bleach: Use 10 drops per gallon of water, or one teaspoon for 10 gallons. Don’t use scented or “color-safe” bleaches. Let the treated water stand 30 minutes before use. (60 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold.) If your power has been out, food safety is also an issue. Some reminders: • If perishable food is cold to touch, and you know it has not been above 45 degrees Fahrenheit for more than one or two hours, it is probably safe to keep, use or refreeze. • Discard all meat, seafood, dairy products or cooked food that does not feel cold to the touch. If in doubt, throw it out. • Never taste suspect food. It may look and smell fine, even though the bacteria that cause foodborne illness are present. When returning home, make sure all electrical power and natural gas or propane tanks are shut off to avoid fire or explosions. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company or the police or fire departments; do not return to the house until you are told it is safe. Here are a few more important tips. • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: • Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages, or mobile homes. • Never use gasoline powered equipment indoors. - Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed. - Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected areas. - Prevent mold: - Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products). - Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters. - Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures). - After completing the cleanup, after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage, or when preparing or eating food, wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected. - Wash all clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water, or worn during the cleanup, in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens. More information is available on the Department of Health Web site (www.doh.wa.gov).