Natural Disaster

Your family may benefit from owning a personal well. After all, wells offer a fresh supply of water close to your home. However, after a natural disaster it’s important to take the correct precautions before using your well. It’s possible that in the aftermath, harmful chemicals may have poisoned the water.

Natural disasters don’t happen often. In fact, you may not have to use emergency well information every day, but it’s important to have a plan of action. In case of an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or flood you should know how to keep your family safe.

Here’s what to do after a natural disaster to keep both your family and well water safe

Check for Damages

The first step after a natural disaster is to check for damages. For example, fast water passing around the outside of the well can carry large debris that may crush or become stuck in well structures.

A damaged well exterior may allow dirt to contaminate your water or cause the entire well to collapse. Avoid putting pressure on the walls of the well without reinforcing the sides. Remember that even if you can’t see any visible damages, well water may be contaminated. Don’t use the well until you have the water tested.

To avoid these damages, before a disaster hits, consider fortifying the edges of your well and covering any cracks that may allow water to seep into the sides. Also, don’t overlook the top of your well. Capping it can block sediment during a flood.

If your well is more than 10 years old, consider refurbishing the exterior. Also, wells built less than 50 ft. deep may also pose a risk.

Don’t Turn On the Pump

Dirt and silt may destroy the wiring in electrical pumps. Thus, you will need to wait until the system has dried completely to examine it. By the same token, any contact with the wet electrical device may cause electric shock. To avoid this, have the wiring system checked by a professional.

Any component submersed in water risks failure, so you may need to clean gears and valves of silt. Remember, any dirt left in the system will cause the pump to burn out. Assume that electric functions are unsafe to use until a professional has assessed and fixed the damages.

Test the Water

Underground storage tanks can release contaminants into the environment, polluting soil and ground water. Depending on ground flow, these contaminants may reach your well and infect the water. If in doubt, always get your water checked before you or your family drink the water.

You may need a professional to test your water several times before it is safe to use. Just wait until the lab has notified you that your water is clear of bacteria.

Don’t wash or do any of the following until you have a professional test your water:

  • Drinking

  • Making baby formula

  • Washing dishes

  • Showering/bathing

  • Making ice

  • Brushing teeth

Drinking polluted water can cause skin irritations or internal damage to organs. For this reason, you should use bottled water until your water passes inspection.

Perform an Emergency Disinfection

Work with the pump professional to perform an emergency disinfection. Here are a few step-by-step instructions on how to disinfect your well in case of an emergency:

  1. Use a hose to clear the spigot of sediment. Continue to run water through your system until you cannot see any dirt.

  2. Pour a gallon of bleach into the well. If you have a sanitary seal, you can pour the bleach into a removable air vent or plug. Or if it’s a well that’s been dug, lift the entire cover and pour the bleach into the well. Use a funnel to pour the bleach into the casing.

  3. Run hose water through the casing until you smell the chlorine.

  4. Turn on faucets in your house until you smell the chlorine inside. Do not use water while you disinfect.

  5. Run well water through the spigot until the chlorine smell is gone.

An emergency disinfection is temporary. For instance, septic tanks or chemical spills may pollute surrounding water areas. This means, any damages to the well exterior may continue to allow contaminated water into your well. It may take a few months to restore your water’s purity. Don’t use water to drink until it’s taken care of by a professional.

You can check with the state county health department for long-term water conditions. Likewise, information about your well water may also help the state determine water quality safety.

Keep your family safe in a natural disaster. Take precautions now to strengthen your well against the next flood or earthquake. You can keep the exterior strong to safeguard from unexpected events. And always keep bottled water available for your family until professionals can restore fresh water to your well.