For many Thurston County residents, flooding is an all too familiar event. Dealing with the threat and aftermath of seasonal flooding is a trade off that many residents willingly make in exchange for living in beautiful, but flood prone parts of our county.
While we can’t easily control the hydraulic forces of floodwaters, we can make preparations to reduce the environmental impacts created by floods. Proper storage of hazardous materials around homes, businesses, and agricultural operations can lessen the impacts.
When flood waters rise, and swiftly move through garages, outbuildings and barns, items that aren’t fixed in place become part of the flood’s flotsam and jetsam, creating a toxic soup of fuels, stains, pesticides, and other hazardous materials.
All county residents, regardless of the flood potential where you live, are encouraged to be proactive when storing hazardous materials and wastes.
- Don’t store hazardous materials and wastes outside – if flood waters don’t carry them away, rainwater will likely find a way into the containers, and overflow them.
- Choose a storage area that is secure, and unlikely to be impacted by floods. Hazardous materials should be stored on sturdy shelving, and in containment tubs or trays for different types of items.
-- For example, if you have both a wood deck and a concrete patio at your home, it is likely that you maintain them with the two different products to clean them. Many of these products are on chemically opposite ends of the pH scale. One could be a corrosive deck cleaner (an acid), while the concrete cleaner could contain caustic chemicals (a base). Both products can be harmful to people, pets and the environment if improperly used, and can chemically react if they are mixed/spilled together. Read product labels for proper use of protective equipment, and store different types of chemicals separate from each other.
- Store hazardous materials away from your (and your neighbor’s) well. Floodwaters can carry spilled materials into a pump house and down the well casing or other conduit.
- Reduce the amount of hazardous materials you store. Storing chemicals is easier when you only have one or two containers of household chemicals, as opposed to numerous totes of fuels, stains, and pesticides. Take unwanted, unused household hazardous materials to HazoHouse. Choosing least-toxic materials also reduces the threats posed by spills into floodwaters.
Take time now to prepare your garage and shop before a flood; you don’t want to be worrying about your gasoline and deck stain while trying to protect family, livestock, and your property.