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Cumbria Floods - Public Health

Stay safe and protect against infection

The main health hazard in floods come from the stress and strain of the event and clean-up. Take time to look after you and your family's mental health and wellbeing. Do not overexert yourself in the clean-up.

What's the best health advice - isn't there a risk from bugs in the water?

Infection problems arising from floods in this country are rare. Usually any harmful bugs in floodwater become very diluted and present a low risk, but there are a few precautions to be aware of when dealing with flooding which should prevent unnecessary additional health problems:

When cleaning up use waterproof boots and protective gloves. Keep any open cuts or sores clean and prevent them being exposed to floodwater - wear waterproof plasters if you can.

before eating or preparing food, after being in contact with flood water, or soiled items.

and wash children's hands frequently (always before eating). There may be no need to throw away household items as long as they can be properly cleaned.

walls, furniture, pans, plates and cutlery with hot soapy water or kitchen disinfectant until they look clean. Powerful disinfectants, such as
strong bleach are not necessary and may be harmful to surfaces.

and fittings that are damaged beyond repair. Clothing, bedding and other soft articles including children's toys should be washed on a hot wash (60 C or the highest temperature indicated on washing instructions). This will destroy most germs that may be present.

that have been soiled and cannot be put in a washing machine will need to be professionally cleaned - if this is not possible, they may need to be disposed of.

Do not switch on electrical appliances that have been in contact with floodwater unless a competent electrician has checked them, as here is risk of electrocution. Even if gas appliances appear to be working normally, the flue or ventilation systems maybe affected. For safety reasons have appliances inspected by a Gas Safe Register engineer (call 0800 408 5500 for advice). Don't use any outdoor cooking equipment such as barbecues inside your house again be aware of toxic fumes and fire risk.  

from the indoor use of generators and other fuel-powered equipment, such as driers. Remember that petrol or diesel generators and other fuel-driven equipment should NEVER be brought indoors. If you are using a fuel driven generator or other fuel driven equipment this should be properly sited outdoors. However, if you experience dizziness, headaches or disorientation, switch off appliances, move to a well-ventilated area and seek medical advice.

There may also be additional works to be done as advised by your insurance company, housing officer, landlord, builder etc.

don't try to undertake any difficult or dangerous work yourself - replacing roof tiles and checking electrical or gas safety should be done by qualified professional.