LABELLE — The Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties (FDOH-Hendry/Glades) is urging the public to be mindful of potential issues with septic tanks and sewage.
Following a storm, you may experience problems with the operation of your sewage system. If you have a septic system that runs by a dosing pump, it will not work without electricity. You should stop using water in your home as much as possible until the electricity comes back on. Without the pump working, the septic tank will fill and may cause backup of sewage in your home.
• Do not let children play in flood waters, as these waters may be contaminated by sewage.
• If you live in a low-lying or flood prone area, the ground in your area may be soaked with heavy rainfalls or flooding from a storm/heavy rains/tropical storm/hurricane. You should use household water as little as possible to prevent backup of sewage into your home.
What should I do if sewage backs up into my home?
If sewage backs up into your house, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup.
• Absorbent household materials, such as wallcoverings, cloth, rugs, and drywall, should be removed and discarded since they cannot be properly disinfected.
• Hard-surfaced walls and floors, food contact surfaces, such as counter tops, refrigerators and tables and areas where children play should be cleaned with soap and water followed by a disinfecting solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water.
• All linens and clothing should be cleaned in hot water or dry cleaned, while carpeting should be steam cleaned if not replaced.
• Air-dry larger items them in the sun, followed by spraying them with a disinfectant.
If your home is served by a septic tank and your plumbing is functioning slowly or sluggishly, you should:
• Conserve water as much as possible. If you use less water, you will increase the chance of not having any septic problems. This would include minimizing the use of your washing machine by going to a laundromat. Also, consider using a portable restroom.
• Do not have the septic tank pumped. Exceptionally high water tables might crush a septic tank that was pumped dry, or it could pop out of the ground. If the main problem is high ground water, pumping the tank will not solve that problem.
• If you cannot use your plumbing without creating a sanitary nuisance, such as sewage on top of the ground, consider renting a portable restroom for a temporary period, or moving to a new location until conditions improve.
• Do not have the septic tank and drain field repaired until the ground water has receded below the bottom of the drain field. Often, systems will function properly again when dry conditions return. Any repair must be permitted and inspected by the Department.