It is recommended that you only fully reoccupy your home once it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and allowed to dry out. Remember your power supplies may have been affected. Turn off the power and get advice from your supplier/s before use.
Some basic precautions are all that is necessary to protect your health - infection problems arising from floods in the UK are rare. If you follow the advice in this leaflet, you should be able to avoid any additional health problems for you and your family as a result of clearing up.
Always wear gloves Ring NHS Direct if any concerns 0845 4647.
General advice on protecting against infection
The floodwater affecting your home or other property may have been contaminated with sewage, animal waste and other contaminants. However, infection problems arising from floods in the UK are actually rare. Although harmful micro-organisms in flood water are very diluted and present a low risk there are a few precautions to be aware of when dealing with flooding which should prevent unnecessary additional health problems. If you follow the basic advice below you should not experience any additional health problems.
Always wash your hands.
Gardens and play areas
Do not let young children or pets play on affected areas until they have been cleaned down and restored to their normal condition.
Be aware of potential chemical hazards you may encounter during flood recovery.
In general, you should avoid contact with contaminated water and materials, but if it becomes necessary to do so, you should wear protective clothing and gloves. You should also avoid enclosed areas that may be chemically contaminated, such as garages and cellars, where hazardous fumes may build up.
Be aware that floodwaters may have soaked into containers of chemicals, solvents and other industrial items or moved them from their normal storage place. In general, avoid contact with floodwater and wear waterproof gloves whilst cleaning up.
Following potential chemical contamination, residents should not return home without seeking advice from your Local Authority.
Water and mud may enter gas systems during a flood. Even if appliances appear to be working normally, the flue or ventilation systems may be affected. For safety reasons it is most important to have appliances inspected by a CORGI registered engineer before they are used for the first time after flooding.
Reducing the risk of mould
Flooding can contribute to the growth of mould in homes, which can present a health risk, especially to people with asthma, allergies, other breathing conditions and those with a suppressed immune system. Always ventilate.
Remember to stay safe
It is recommended that you only fully reoccupy your home once it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and allowed to dry out. Be careful walking through floodwater, there may be debris, open covers, open grates or other hazards you cannot see and sediments may be slippery. Always move slowly and carefully.
Never enter flooded areas or touch wet electrical equipment, unless you are certain that the power is off. Do not assume that any part of a flooded electrical installation/appliance is safe.
Do not turn the power back on or use electrical equipment unless advised to do so or if checked by a qualified electrician. Items may work and appear safe but once they have been underwater, they could cause a fire.
The main health hazard following flooding comes from the stress and strain of the event, not from infections. Take some time to consider your mental health and approach the clean up without overexerting yourself and in this way, you will avoid additional physical stress.
The safe use of emergency generators
Remember that petrol or diesel generators, dehumidifiers and pressure washers should never be used indoors without adequate ventilation. The exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide which can quickly build up to poisonous levels without proper ventilation.
Guide to resistant and resilient repair after a flood (word 621kb)
Health Protection Agency - General advice following floods (pdf 98kb)
Health Protection Agency - How to clean up safety following floods (pdf 104kb)