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Five ways to stay safe during a flood

Five ways to stay safe during a flood

1. Register to receive emergency alerts on your phone. You may sign up to receive alerts via cell phone, landlines, email or text message. To sign up for alerts, go to for Larimer County or

2. Stay away from rivers and streams and any moving water. Also, don't play in or drink floodwater. Water may be contaminated with partially treated sewage and wastewater.

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment reiterates warnings put out by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Do not enter local rivers and streams at this time. All river corridors and streams in Larimer County could potentially be contaminated with sewage and other contaminants due to flooding and could therefore pose health hazards. This includes high water runoff from rivers and streams that might seem safe to walk in. Other hazards that are more obvious include floating debris and rushing water.

Here are some other safety tips:

  • Keep children and/or pets out of the water and clean all toys that have come in contact with the water.
  • Wash hands well after contact with the water.
  • If you have open wounds that come in contact with the water, check with your doctor about receiving a tetanus booster shot.
  • If you've been in contact with possibly contaminated water and develop diarrhea, vomiting or fever, see your health provider as soon as possible.
  • People who get their drinking water from small water systems or private wells should boil their drinking water if there is a suspicion that the water systems were impacted by the flood. This can be done by bringing the water to a boil, let it boil for three minutes and let it cool before using or use bottled water.

For more information about water safety,

3. Stay off the road, but if you need to drive somewhere, be prepared. Most flood deaths occur in automobiles. Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Floodwaters are often deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road. Do not drive through floodwater. Turn around, don't drown.

4. Stay informed. If possible, stay in touch with local media sources, the National Weather Service and local law enforcement communication. The National Weather Service is the best source for weather updates. The following terms are commonly used by the National Weather Service:

  • Watch – Severe weather is possible – be alert.
  • Warning – severe weather has been reported or imminent – take precautions immediately.

5. Protect yourself during cleanup. When it's safe to be outdoors, here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect yourself and your family from potentially contaminated floodwater that may contain sewage and chemical hazards.

  • 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 area.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • 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 floodwaters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
  • After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for one minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands).
    • Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of ? teaspoon [~0.75 milliliters] of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use solution of ¼ teaspoon (~1.5 milliliters) of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.

For more information, go to

Looking for flood resources? Here are 11 of the best online flooding resources.

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