As flood victims and evacuees return home, many will find themselves with questions about food safety, what to keep and what not to keep, and how to clean up after the water has been pumped away.
The professional home economists at ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen have put together the following set of answers to commonly asked questions, and we hope you find it useful. If you have any more specific questions that you don’t see answered here, please don’t hesitate to call the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen Answer Line toll-free at 1-877-420-9090
, or email us at email@example.com
Throughout the week, we will continue to add more answers based on the questions we receive. (Last updated on Thursday, June 27.)
Question: How do I clean and disinfect concrete floors?
Answer: Remove all dirt; wash with water and detergent by scrubbing with a stiff broom. Rinse with water. Scrub again with a disinfection solution of at least 1/4 cup (50 mL) chlorine bleach in 1 gallon (4 L) water. Allow to air dry.
Question: Do I need to wear a mask or rubber gloves to clean up?
Answer: Always wear protective gear to do any major clean up. This may include, but not be limited to, rubber gloves, masks, rubber boots and safety glasses. Check with your local health authority or municipality to determine what you need.
Question: What do I use to disinfect?
Answer: Many items and areas in your home can be easily disinfected after they are thoroughly cleaned. Commercial products that state they disinfect can be used – follow instructions exactly. Chlorine bleach is also a good disinfectant; however, it may damage some materials. Use at least 1 tbsp (15 mL) chlorine bleach per litre (4 cups) of water for most items. Saturate the items and allow to air dry. Make this solution of bleach and water daily; do not store.
Question: How do I disinfect laundry, bedding and household linens?
Answer: For washable items, use warm or hot water and laundry detergent. Then disinfect using chlorine bleach, if safe for the type of fabrics. Test for colour-fastness. Use bleach according to instructions on bottle. Dry as hot as safely possible.
If chlorine bleach cannot be used, find another disinfectant suitable for fabrics, such as Lysol Brand Concentrate, and follow directions. Other products may be available.
For non-washable items, take outside, brush off mud, dry in sun and take to dry cleaners.
Question: The power was out for 4 days. Is anything in my refrigerator safe?
Answer: Even if your fridge was not touched by flood waters, after 4 days of not being at refrigerator temperature, very few things may still be safe. Anything that can normally be stored at room temperature, such as apples, tomatoes, bread, and some condiments (soy sauce, ketchup), may still be safe.
Question: Flood water came in contact with food in my house but the food was still in packages. Are they safe to use?
Answer: Only commercially-prepared foods in sealed metal (aluminum) cans may be safe. The cans must be inspected, cleaned and disinfected. Remove the labels, scrub cans well using warm water and detergent, then disinfect the cans using a chlorine bleach solution of at least 1 teaspoon (5 mL) bleach in 3 cups (750 mL) water. Allow to air dry and re-label using a permanent marker.
All other packaged foods, including jars and bottles, cannot be adequately disinfected and must be discarded.
Question: How do I disinfect dishes and cooking utensils?
Answer: Wash dishes and cooking utensils with hot water and dish detergent, rinse and disinfect by soaking for 2 minutes in warm water containing 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chlorine bleach for 4 quarts (4 L). Do not rinse; air dry!
Question: Can I salvage blankets, comforters and pillows that have been in flood waters? What about mattresses, box springs and futons?
Answer: Blankets that can be washed and dried can be recovered in the same way as laundry. Very thick blankets or comforters may be able to be washed and dried in extra-capacity machines such as those at a commercial laundromat. Be sure to wash and dry as warm as possible.
Unfortunately, pillows, mattresses, box springs and futons cannot be cleaned and disinfected completely. These must be discarded.