Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Your swamped house... What you need to know

Health risks

The floodwater affecting your home or other property may have been contaminated with sewage, animal waste and other contaminants and often leaves a muddy deposit. However, experience from previous flooding and sewage contamination has shown that any risk to health is small. Booster immunisations or antibiotics are not usually required.

Health risks can be minimised by taking general hygiene precautions and by the use of protective clothing (waterproof boots and gloves) whilst cleaning up.

Always wash your hands with soap and clean water after being in contact with flood water, sewage or items that have been contaminated by these, or participating in flood cleanup activities.

Don’t allow children to play in floodwater areas until the area is cleaned up or for about a week after flooding.

Wash children’s hands frequently (always before meals). Wash floodwater-contaminated toys with hot water or disinfect before allowing them to be used.

Keep any open cuts or sores clean and prevent them being exposed to flood water. Use waterproof plasters.

If anyone does develop a tummy upset following flooding they should contact their GP practice for advice.

Clearing up

Remove dirty water and silt from the property including the space under the ground floor if you have wooden floors. This space may need pumping out.

Clothing, bedding and other soft/fabric articles including children’s toys etc should be laundered on a hot wash to destroy germs.

Wash down all hard surfaces with hot soapy water until they look clean. Allow to thoroughly dry.

Heating and good ventilation will assist the drying process.

If the floodwater contained oil, diesel etc this should in the main be removed with the floodwater and silt. Any remaining oil, diesel etc contamination in accessible areas can be removed by using a detergent solution and washing the surface down.

Food preparation

Don’t eat any food that has been covered by or come into contact with floodwater.

Ensure all surfaces that food will come into contact with are sound and disinfected.

Food preparation surfaces should be wiped down using hot tap water containing washing-up-liquid, and dishes and other utensils should also be washed in hot tap water containing washing-up-liquid.

Frozen food that has been at ambient temperature for a few hours should be discarded.

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