Floods

Environmental Health

Floods

As of July 1, the inspection, compliance and enforcement functions from several provincial government departments will come together under Nova Scotia Environment.

Departments involved in this consolidation include the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Health and Wellness, the Department of Agriculture, Nova Scotia Environment, and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

For more information, visit novascotia.ca/nse/inspection-compliance-enforcement/

What to do?

Floods can occur at any time and can cause significant damage to your home and property. Sewer backups, leaks, broken water mains, torrential rainfalls, and sudden ice thaws can all result in flooding. Weather disasters, such as hurricanes and storm surges, can cause the water level to rise violently along the coastline. The risk of flooding is generally highest in the spring with heavy rains and winter thawing.

When a flood warning is issued:

  • Fill your bathtub(s) with water for flushing, washing and cleaning
  • Be sure to tune in to local broadcast networks for updates from authorities.
  • Set aside a supply of drinking water, in case your supply becomes contaminated.
  • Disconnect eaves troughs that drain into sewer.
  • Remove all chemicals from basement.
  • Move furniture and personal belongings to a higher floor.
  • If your property is close to water consider piling sandbags.
  • Put away lawn furniture, planters, picnic tables, small boats or anything that could be swept away in a flood.

If your home is flooded:

  • Turn basement furnace off and shut off outside gas valves.
  • Turn off electrical power. If your main power box is not in a dry, safe location, do not attempt to turn it off. Contact Nova Scotia Power at 428-6004 or 1-877-428-6004.
  • Do not stand or wade in water where contact has been made with electrical equipment.
  • Do not use well water for drinking, cooking or bathing until the water has been tested and determined to be safe. If you have questions about your water, you should contact your local Nova Scotia Environment office by calling 1-877-9ENVIRO.

Re-entering your home:

  • Do not return home until authorities have advised that it is safe to do so.
  • If the main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding, do not re-enter your home until a qualified electrician has determined it is safe to do so.
  • Appliances that may have been flooded pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried, and inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • The main electrical panel must also be cleaned, dried, and tested by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is safe.

Drinking Water:

Food safety:

Medications / Drugs Exposed to Unsafe Water:

  • Drugs (pills, oral liquids, drugs for injection, inhalers, skin medications) may become contaminated and if so, should be discarded.
  • For lifesaving drugs, if the pills are dry they may be used until a replacement can be obtained.  If a pill is wet, it is contaminated and should be discarded. 
  • For drugs that have to be made into a liquid using water (reconstituted), the drug should only be reconstituted with boiled or bottled water.  Liquids other than water should not be used.
  • Contact your pharmacist if you have any questions; such as, proper disposal of medications and requirements for refrigerated medications during a power outage.
  • If a contaminated product is considered medically necessary, and would be difficult to replace quickly, you should contact a healthcare provider for guidance.

Infant Feeding:

  • During a flood, your water supply may be affected.
  • Use boiled or bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. 
    • Always boil water to be used for preparing powdered infant formula. Use water that has been brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute and cooled to no less than 70ºC (maximum 30 minutes)
    • Check bottled water and choose a product with the lowest possible sodium and nitrate content
  • Follow proper sanitary steps to ensure child safety as you would on a daily basis.
  • Acceptable guidelines for storing human milk are as follows:
    • at room temperature (19-26ºC) for 6 hours
    • in a refrigerator for up to 8 days (if collected in a clean, careful way)
    • in a freezer (-18 to -20ºC) for 6-12 months
  • It is safest to prepare a fresh feed each time one is needed, and to consume immediately.
  • For more information on breast milk or formula, please contact your local public health office.

Electric powered medical equipment (ex. oxygen machine):

  • Nova Scotia Power runs a Critical Customer Care Program for customers who have electric-powered medical equipment at home that is necessary to sustain life or avoid serious medical complications (such as an oxygen machine).  For more information on this program, please call NS Power Customer Service at 1-800-428-6230 (TDD number 1-800-565-6051).

Carbon monoxide poisoning prevention:

  • Carbon monoxide is found in combustion fumes (ex. small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns and gas ranges or by burning charcoal and wood) and can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. 
  • Every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector.  The detector’s batteries should be checked twice a year, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove inside a home, camper or tent.
  • Never use a generator inside a home, basement or garage, even if the doors and windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
  • If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.

Mould: