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Safety After a Flood
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Additional Health and Safety Information After Natural Disasters (fire, flood, etc)

  • Use caution when bringing children and pregnant women into an area with ash and damaged structures until cleanup is completed. Do not leave children unattended at burned properties.

  • Watch for repeated coughing, nausea, unusual fatigue or dizziness, particularly if there is a medical history of chronic lung disease (like asthma or COPD) or heart disease.

  • Don't breathe the ash from the fires. Ash can irritate your respiratory system. Adults should use a protective mask (N-95 or P-100) while in areas where ash particles cannot be controlled. N-95 masks must be properly fitted and are not designed for children or people with facial hair, subsequently they will not provide full protection. Bandanas (wet or dry), paper or surgical masks, or tissues held over the mouth and nose will NOT protect your lungs. Persons with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a mask during post-fire cleanup.


  • Protective clothing is important: wear goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toes and insoles (not just steel shank), long sleeves, and long pants to avoid skin contact. Handle all burned plastics with gloves as possible toxins can come off the plastic.


  • DebrisWatch for broken glass, exposed: wires, nails, wood, metal, plastic, falling trees and tree limbs.

  • Watch for Ash Pits and mark them for safety. Ash pits are holes of hot or cold ashes, created by burned trees and stumps. Falling into ash pits can cause burns and/or injuries.

  • Tetanus Shot: It is recommended for anyone returning to an area affected by a disaster to be up-to-date on their tetanus vaccination. If you cannot remember when you last received a shot or it has been more than five years, you will need a booster.

  • Food Products: Food exposed to fire can be damaged by four factors: heat, smoke, firefighting chemicals, and power outages affecting refrigeration. If you lost power during the fire for longer than 4 hours, it is recommended to discard any food that has been at temperatures above 41°F. Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked. If you are not certain food is safe, throw it out in designated dumpsters!

  • Water: If you are on a regulated water system (Beulah Water, Pine Drive Water, Signal Mountain Ranch, Mountain Shadows) seek guidance from your water provider. Until your provider notifies you the water is okay, ensure destruction of harmful bacteria and other microbes. Water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be brought to a vigorous boil for two minutes and cooled prior to consumption. If you are on a private well and your well was close to active burning and/or fire retardant, water can be tested for coliform bacteria (indicator the system has been subject to groundwater contamination) at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. Be sure to use the sterile bottle provided, follow instructions on the form provided.

  • Water testing (initial and follow-up) will only be provided for private wells at no charge.

  • Septic Systems: If the septic system is damaged, backing up or malfunctioning, discontinue use and contact the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment for guidance and instruction.

  • Fire Retardant: Use WATER ONLY to clean up retardant, as retardant is harmful if mixed with bleach.



Boiling water will kill disease-causing organisms.
Sometimes boiling is not recommended if there is a possibility of chemical contamination because boiling will concentrate the contaminants.

  • If the water is cloudy, let it settle. Then filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel or coffee filter into a clean container.
  • Boil the water for two minutes.
  • Let the water cool at least 30 minutes. You can re-oxygenate the water by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers if the taste seems flat.
  • Store the boiled clean water in clean containers with covers.