During adverse weather some areas may experience flooding, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people of the potential public health risks associated with flooding.
In relation to flooding, the main risk relates to injuries caused by hidden dangers under the water such as missing manhole covers or people falling into fast flowing waters. The stress and strain of being flooded and cleaning up can have a notable impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The risk of contracting illness is generally low. However, as it is not always clear whether water is contaminated or not, the public are urged to exercise caution and assume that flood water is contaminated.
The PHA reminded residents there are a number of precautions to prevent health problems if there is a flood situation in the home. These include:
- wherever possible try to avoid coming into direct contact with floodwater;
- do not let children play in floodwater;
- use rubber gloves when cleaning up;
- wash hands after being in contact with flood water, sewage or anything contaminated by these;
- wash children’s hands regularly;
- clean toys that have been in flood water with disinfectant;
- cover cuts or open sores;
- don’t eat any food that has been in contact with flood water;
- clean all surfaces with disinfectant before any food is placed on them;
- contact your GP if you or a relative develops a stomach upset following flooding.
Care must be taken when clearing up after flooding as there is a serious danger posed by carbon monoxide fumes from the indoor use of generators to dry out buildings.
If flooding occurs in your local area contact the Flooding Incident Helpline on 0300 2000 100 immediately. This service is available 24 hours a day every day of the year.
There are a few precautions to be aware of when dealing with flooding, which should help prevent additional health problems. The Public Health Agency flood guidance factsheet can be found here.
The public is advised to take extra care, further information and advice can be found on the Met Office website by clicking here.