Flooding Clean Up – Staying Safe and Healthy

 

DON’T:

  • walk or drive through flood water. Drain covers may be missing and you may fall down uncovered drains and gullies or trip over debris hidden by the floodwater.
  • start to clean up or carry out repairs until you are sure it is safe to do so.
  • use a candle to guide you when entering a flooded building.
  • touch electrical appliances, sockets or switches that have been in contact with flood water, to avoid the risk of electrocution. If in doubt ask a qualified electrician.
  • lift anything beyond your own personal capacity – get help.
  • use petrol or diesel generators inside buildings, e.g. to power pumps and dehumidifiers. The exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide which can quickly build up to poisonous levels.
  • pump out your premises until the water has subsided. Coordinate removal of water and sludge between connected houses to prevent structural damage.
 

DO:

  • evacuate if asked to do so by the emergency services.
  • wash your hands and areas of exposed skin with clean, warm water and soap after contact with floodwater and always before handling or consuming food. Use a nailbrush for hands if necessary. Wet wipes can be used if no clean water is available but hands should be washed with soap and water at the next available opportunity. Alcohol gel only works on visibly clean hands and is not effective against many bugs which may be in flood water. It can be used as an additional measure after hand washing/wipes.  
  • cover cuts or broken areas of skin with waterproof plasters to prevent them being exposed to floodwater .
  • keep children, vulnerable people and pets well away from flood waters.
  • move furniture, portable electrical items and valuables out of harm’s way.
  • boil spring water used for drinking and food preparation. 
  • phone your water company if you notice a change in water quality, such as a change in the colour, taste or smell of your tap water.
  • turn off gas and electricity. For further guidance see:
  • dispose of all food which has been in contact with flood water. The Food Standards Agency issues full guidance.
  • wear rubber gloves, goggles, a face mask and appropriate footwear e.g. wellingtons when cleaning up. Flood water may be contaminated with sewage, sharps, syringes and chemicals. If found, avoid injury by picking up needles or syringes with a net or shovel, not with fingers. Contact Environmental Health to report found sharps. If injured by a sharp, squeeze the puncture site to make it bleed, wash the site with soap and clean water, pat dry and apply a plaster, then speak to A&E as you will need the injury assessed and may need a blood test or vaccine.
  • use disinfectants such as bleach in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. All contaminated hard surfaces will need to be disinfected. N.B. disinfectants are only effective if used at the correct concentration and left in contact with a surface for the correct time.

Suggested procedure: ensure adequate ventilation to use the products safely.

  1. Clean surface with soap and clean water.
  2. Disinfect with cold water 1,000 parts per million (ppm) concentration of bleach or equivalent
  3. Allow to air dry.

 

Damp living conditions and mould can make otherwise healthy people unwell but this can be much worse for people with immunosuppression and those with long term respiratory conditions, like asthma, emphysema or COPD. It is advisable for such people to stay away from areas that are affected.  

 
For more advice on cleaning up flooded premises safely Public Health England and the Environment Agency have also issued the following guidance: Flooding: health guidance and advice.
 
If you need to get in touch with Calderdale Council’s adult social care team please call 01422 393000 between 8.45am and 5.30pm Monday – Thursday, and 8.45am to 5.00pm on Fridays. 
 
Outside these times, if there is an emergency, please call the Emergency Duty Team on 01422 288000. For more information visit Gateway to Care
 
 

What emotional support is available in Calderdale?

Distress is a common reaction for people following a flood. However, this is usually temporary and most people cope with being flooded despite being distressed by it. If symptoms persist, there are some local services that can help:

  • Your GP.
  • Calderdale Talking Therapies (Insight Health Care) is a self-referral service offering psychological support for adults registered with a Calderdale GP. Phone: 0300 5550191 or visit: calderdale@insighthealthcare.org
  • South West Yorkshire Partnership Trust IAPT is a self-referral service offering psychological therapies for adults registered with a Calderdale GP. Phone: 01484 343700.
  • Healthy Minds runs a number of peer-led wellbeing groups, phone: 01422 345154.

There are also some national services:

  • Samaritans, phone: 116123 or email: jo@samaritans.org
  • SANE mental health charity helpline, phone: 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm – 10.30pm daily).
  • Mind information line:
    • phone: 0300 123 3393 (9am to 6pm Monday – Friday, except Bank Holidays);
    • email: info@mind.org.uk;
    • text: 86463.