|FAQ - Regulatory - Archived Through 2012
If an office gets flooded, what should be done with supplies?
As addressed by Lynne Sehulster, PhD, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion:
Determine the source of the flooding. If it's a leak (e.g., water pipe develops a leak, roof leaks after a heavy rain), stop the leak and make the repair. If the flooding is from a natural event, remove the water or allow it to recede.
Determine if the potable tap water supply has been compromised.
Check with the municipal water utility for more guidance if the problem comes from natural flooding. Comply with "boil water" advisories(1) issued by local authorities. If the flooding comes from a plumbing leak in the building, the plumber should be able to advise you as to whether water quality will be restored after the leak is repaired. Note: The importance of restoring water quality early on is to help with the rest of the operatory clean up.
With regard to operatory equipment, instruments, and supplies, discard any disposable, single-use items that have become wet. Reuseable supplies, packaged or unpackaged, should be cleaned with clean, potable water and reprocessed according to manufaturer recommendations. If water quality cannot be readily restored, use bottled water (such as you would find in the supermarket) for this purpose. Equipment should be cleaned up as much as practical. If electrical equipment is water-damaged, check with the manufacturer to obtain its recommendations for cleaning and restoring safe operation.
Clean hard, non-porous environmental surfaces (e.g., floors) with clean water and a detergent disinfectant. Clean and then disinfect operatory surfaces such as the countertops using a low- or intermediate-level disinfectant.
Dental/medical records should be dried out and copies made if needed. If records are contaminated (e.g., from a major sewage spill) and they can't be copied, then laminate the page or surround it with plastic wrap. Check with local hospitals to see what methods might be available to for record restoration and preservation.
Structural damage to walls, floors, ceilings, etc. from major flooding should be addressed ASAP. To prevent the growth of mold and mildew, wet sheetrock, plasterboard, carpeting, and any other absorbent building material needs to be thoroughly dried out within 72 hours. If this is not feasible, then those wet materials need to be removed to allow the underlying structure to dry. It may help to have an engineer or a health department industrial hygienist come by with a moisture meter to make the determination of "dryness."
Additional OSAP resources on managing flood conditions.
(1) CDC. Suggested procedures for dental offices during boil-water advisories. Available at http://www.osap.org/issues/news/index.php?name=969375729