Santé Montréal


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Major floods usually happen when snow melts in the springtime, during periods of heavy rain, but also in wintertime when frazil accumulates.

A quick and major increase of the water level can also occur when a dam breaks. Boroughs and towns on the shores of Rivière-des-Prairies are the most likely to be flooded.  

Source: Ville de Montréal


Preparing and protecting against health and safety issues in the event of a flood

Consult various documents and Websites:

Are you having a hard time or feeling distressed? You can get help from a social worker by calling  8-1-1 (Info-Social). It's free, confidential and accessible 24/7.

Assistance to flood victims: 1-877-644-4545,

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When to Consult

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Protection and prevention

To protect your health after a flood

Psychosocial Assistance

As a result of the spring floods, health institutions are providing psychosocial support services (psychological distress, anxiety, stress, etc.) to citizens in flood-stricken areas who need to consult. Psychosocial support is available during the crisis and will be throughout the reconstruction process (weeks and months following the disaster), when there is an acute need (difficulties when returning home, dealing with material losses, etc.).

There are four ways to access the psychosocial support on offer:

  • Directly at the flood site

Support workers are on site, and work in collaboration with the police and the military. They make contact with people affected by the floods to reassure and support them, especially when the flood victims find it hard to leave their homes.

  • Help centres for disaster victims

Psychosocial support workers have been deployed to help centres for disaster victims, set up in areas affected by flooding. They work proactively, defusing crisis situations, providing immediate help (comfort, sense of security, etc.), and directing flood victims and their families and friends to the appropriate resources. In collaboration with municipalities, psychosocial workers also attend information meetings for citizens.

  • 8-1-1 help line

The help line provides quick 24/7 telephone access to help from psychosocial services (information, intervention, referral, professional advice); help will be available for the duration of the disaster as well as during the recovery process.

  • Regular services

Regular psychosocial support services are also offered at all provincial health institutions. Psychosocial services include locating people in need, providing crisis interventions (e.g. re-establishing a sense of security and comfort), interventions in the days and weeks following the disaster (e.g. psychosocial information sessions, supporting disaster victims, psychosocial support for professionals on site) and during the recovery process (e.g. support and information).

Contact information for psychosocial services by territory

To learn about services provided on your territory, contact your centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS). 

To find your CIUSSS

  • CIUSSS de l’Est- de-l’Île-de-Montréal :

    • CLSC Mercier-Est : 514 356-2572
    • CLSC de l’Est : 514 642-4050
    • CLSC Rivières-des-Prairies : 514 494-4924
    • CLSC St-Léonard et St-Michel : 514 722-3300, poste 1422
    • CLSC Rosemont, Hochelaga et Olivier-Guimond : 514 253-2181, poste 65337

  • CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal : 514 630-5175
  • CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal : 514 731-1386, poste 2400
  • CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal : 514 527-2361
  • CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal :514 940-3300

Cleaning your home after a flood

Correct Use of Protective Masks


After returning home, if there is visible or possible mould (greenish or blackish stains, smell of mould) or contamination from chemical products such as heating oil, hire a decontamination specialist.

Protective Mask

Flood waters can contain bacteria, microorganisms or chemicals. It is important to avoid contact with contaminated water, which can cause health problems such as skin infections and gastroenteritis.

When cleaning rooms or objects in your home that have been in contact with flood waters, it is recommended to wear rubber boots, protective glasses and an N95 mask.

N95 masks are sold in hardware stores and pharmacies. Look for the “NIOSH N95” logo on the mask. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fit the mask to your face.

Avoid surgical masks like those used by dentists and homemade masks, as they do not provide enough protection.

To verify that the mask fits properly:

1. Place both hands over the mask without flattening it.

2. Take a deep breath without disturbing the position of the mask. If the mask pulls into your face and no air leaks around it, it fits properly.

3. If the mask doesn’t fit properly (doesn't pull into your face or air leaks), try again following the steps listed above or choose a different mask size or shape.

4. The mask must follow the outline of your face, and there must not be any holes or gaps.

When to Throw Out the N95 Mask

- When air no longer flows through easily
- When the paper filter gets too wet
- If a part of the mask or strap breaks
- Hold the mask by the strap to throw it out

Cleaning your home after a flood (PDF)

Source : Direction régionale de santé publique

Protect Yourself From Mould

After a flood, it’s important to get rid of mould in your home to protect your health and that of your family.

Mould is a tiny fungus that is everywhere in our environment. It grows indoors and outdoors (except in winter). When it grows, mould releases spores into the air that are small enough to breathe in; this can cause health problems especially for people in the following groups:

  • People with severe allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions
  • People with weak immune systems
  • Young children
  • Older adults

Note: If possible, those people should leave their homes until cleanup is complete.

Health effects

Mould can cause or aggravate:

  • allergic rhinitis – symptoms similar to those of hay fever
  • asthma
  • common respiratory infections: cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, etc.
  • eye, nose or throat irritation

Note: In most cases, health problems or symptoms disappear once mould has been removed or the person is no longer exposed to it.

How to recognize mould

Mould is not always visible. Look for signs of mould: musty, earthy or alcohol-like odours; fuzzy green or black stains on walls or ceilings and in cupboards.

After a flood, there can be mould in damp materials, as well as allergens and irritants. As a result, spores are dispersed in the air. For this reason, testing the air is not useful and an unnecessary expense.

Protect yourself while working by wearing

  • Protective clothing: rubber boots and gloves
  • NIOSH-certified N95 protective mask
  • a visor or safety glasses

Note: Wash work clothes every day, separate from other clothing.

If you have health questions, call Info-Santé ou Info-Social : 8-1-1


Protect Yourself From Mould (PDF)

Source : Direction régionale de santé publique

After the floods: How to choose a professional cleaning company

BEFORE hiring a company and starting the work, consider the following:

Is the professional cleaning company registered with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec?

Will the employees be well protected?
They should wear gloves, masks, boots and coveralls. If the employees are not taking care of themselves, the quality of the work may be questionable.

Workers are the only ones who should have access to the zone.

Work zones should be isolated from the rest of the house.
These zones should be well ventilated to make sure the air is vented outside. Mould releases allergens and particles that cause irritation. When the air is vented outside, occupants are less likely to be exposed and the particles don’t get blown into other areas of the house.

Biocides don’t get rid of mould.

Testing the air is not useful and is an unnecessary expense.
After a flood, mould grows in damp places and as a result, there are spores in the air.

For more information about mould, see the Protect Yourself From Mould guide or Pochette d’information 

If you have health questions, call Info-Santé ou Info-Social : 8-1-1


After the floods: How to choose a professional cleaning company (PDF)

Source : Direction régionale de santé publique

Cleaning Up Outdoors: recommendations for workers, residents and volunteers cleaning up after a flood

When cleaning up outdoors, you can come in contact with contaminated water or materials.

Common Health Problems

Contact with water contaminated with germs, fecal matter or other pollutants can cause

  • skin irritations or infections,
  • tetanus, especially if there is a wound or a cut on the skin,
  • gastroenteritis, if contaminated water or objects get in the mouth.

Prevention Measures and Personal Protective Equipment

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Wear clothes that cover the arms and legs, safety boots and rubber work gloves.
  • Keep contaminated water and objects away from skin, eyes and mouth.
  • Wear safety glasses or a visor and a protective mask when there is a risk of splashing.
  • Make sure you are away from the work zone when you drink, eat and put on or take off contact lenses.

Tetanus Vaccination

  • Tetanus is a serious infection. It can develop when a wound comes in contact with contaminated water or objects
  • Many adults are not up to date on their tetanus shots.
  • Adults need a booster shot every 10 years after getting their first vaccine (3 doses during childhood).

Additional Precautions

  • Avoid contact with dead animals or fish; use a shovel to move them.
  • Don’t try to move containers of unidentified chemical products or damaged propane tanks.
  • Don’t go near wild animals.

In Case of Injury

  • Immediately clean all wounds, even minor ones, with soap and clean water.
  • Cover wounds with airtight bandages.
  • Consult a health professional even if you’ve had a tetanus shot. Other preventive treatments or vaccines may be recommended.

To update your vaccinations:

Contact your local CLSC

For serious wound or animal bites that have broken the skin

Call INFO-SANTÉ at 8-1-1 or go to a clinic near you 

Cleaning Up Outdoors: Recommendations for workers, residents and volunteers cleaning up after a flood (PDF)

Based on a pamphlet by Direction de santé publique du CISSS de la Montérégie

Source : Direction régionale de santé publlique

Drinking water and Flood water

Drinking water

Drinking water may be contaminated by flood waters and contain bacteria that could make you sick.

If your drinking water comes:

1. from a municipal water system, follow directions issued by the municipality or authorities before consuming.

2. from your well, consider the water undrinkable. To drink water, prepare food or brush your teeth:

Flood water

Water that is currently flooding homes may contain bacteria or chemicals and contaminate surfaces and objects, cause infections, skin irritations and gastroenteritis. Follow these instructions when you come into contact with flood water.

  • Put on rubber gloves to handle stained objects, and wear boots at all times to avoid contact with water and wet objects, as the risk of infection is great.
  • Use a protective mask and safety goggles when cleaning, even if surfaces are dry, as they may still be contaminated.
  • Wash your hands frequently, as there may be a risk of contamination.
  • Avoid eating in flooded areas.

Drinking water et Flood water (PDF)

Source: Direction régional de santé publique

Parks, public spaces and yards located in flood zones

  • Do not use parks, public spaces or yards located in flood zones until debris has been removed.

Contact with contaminated water (e.g. containing bacteria and viruses, chemical product residue) can cause allergies (dermatitis) and infections, especially if there is a wound or skin problem.

Follow these precautions to make sure that children can play outside safely.

  • It is recommended not to let kids play in contaminated water or in yards or fields that have been flooded until the ground is dry. Drying out soil and sun will eliminate germs on the surface.
  • However, if children have to walk over flooded ground, they should wear rubber boots and appropriate clothes.
  • To avoid risks of gastroenteritis, basic hygiene measures still apply, such as washing hands often especially before eating.
  • It is also recommended to keep a close eye

If you have health questions, call Info-Santé or Info-Social at 8-1-1


Parks, public spaces and yards located in flood zones (PDF)

Based on a pamphlet by Direction de santé publique du CISSS de la Montérégie

Source : Regional public health department

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Risk factors

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Help and Resources

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People at Risk

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Dernière mise à jour le : 2019.05.13