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Returning to Your Home after a Wildfire

Wildfire: Use Water Safely

​​​​​​​​Your home may be affected by smoke, soot and ash, chemicals, structural damage, and water damage. This information is a collection of health and safety items to think about as you start to repair your home. It covers many general topics. Not all of the information may apply to your situation.

Flushing Your Water System Before You Use It

It’s recommended that that you flush your water system to get out the stagnant water from the water lines. Do this even if there’s a boil water advisory when you return home. Repeat flushing once the boil water advisory has been lifted.

  • Run all cold water taps for at least 5 minutes before you use them
  • Run all hot water taps for at least 5 minutes before you use them (even if the water is not hot).

Using Water Safely During a Boil Water Advisory

For more information on how to use water safely after returning to your home, see Boil Water Advisory: How to Use Water Safely

What to do with your private well or cistern

Do a physical inspection of your well or cistern and test your water before you begin using it. Your well or cistern may be physically damaged and your water supply may be contaminated by harmful germs (bacteria) because of a loss of pressure.

Don’t drink untreated water until you get your test results back. Use the water as if there is a boil water advisory. More information is available in Section 2 above.

Test your private well or cistern water supply

Contact Environmental Public Health to find out where to pick up water sample bottles and drop off water samples for testing.

On Understanding Your Drinking Water Bacteria Test Results page, you can find information on how to collect a sample and understand water sample results.

If your water supply is contaminated

Harmful germs, chemicals, or physical debris can get into your water if the well or cistern is damaged. First repair the damage and shock chlorinate your well or clean and disinfect your cistern.

Find more information on checking your private water well after fire, flooding, or damage at What Do I Do if My Private Water Well has Flooded?

Information on shock chlorinating your well is available at Shock Chlorination Information for Private Water Wells

Information on cleaning and disinfecting your cistern is available at How to Clean and Disinfect a Cistern

Current as of: June 26, 2018

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services