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Health warning for flood hit areas

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Health warning for flood hit areas

Posted on Tuesday 25th September 2012

With flood warnings issued for parts of Cumbria as the heavy rain continues NHS Cumbria is asking anyone coming into contact with flood water or soiled materials to make sure they follow hygine advice.

The Environment Agency has issued 17 flood warnings, where flooding is expected, in the north-west of England. They included the rivers Eden and Caldew in Carlisle and the Agency said flood gates in the city had been shut.

People living in flood zones are advised to keep a flood kit ready including a torch, batteries, fully charged mobile phone, warm clothing, water, food and any prescription medicines you may need.

People are asked to make sure their neighbours are aware of the situation and offer help to anyone who may need it and avoid walking, cycling or diving through flood water.

Any infections arising after contact with flood water are uncommon as any harmful bugs in floodwater are usually very diluted due to the rain. This means they present a very small risk to people if proper hygiene precautions are followed.

These include:

  • Wherever possible, try to avoid coming into direct skin contact with dirty water
  • Parents should not let their children play in floodwater and also ensure that any items suspected of being in contact with dirty water are thoroughly cleaned before further use
  • Suitable waterproof gloves (such as household cleaning gloves) and wellingtons should be worn if possible
  • Cuts and other open wounds should be covered with a waterproof plaster
  • Hands and body should be thoroughly cleaned in hot water and soap after contact with flood water or soiled materials
  • Food or drink suspected of being in contact with flood water should be thrown away.
  • Don’t eat garden or allotment produce which has been in contact with flood water
  • Wash down any soiled surfaces with hot water and detergent or disinfectant. Thoroughly wash all crockery, pots and pans etc in hot soapy water.
  • Don’t use electrical or gas appliances affected by flooding until they have been checked by a competent trained professional.
  • Exercise particular caution if walking through murky water as this can often conceal hidden hazards.
  • Anyone who has been in contact with dirty water or soiled materials who develops diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain in the following 10 days should seek medical advice.

Dr Nigel Calvert is an Associate Director of Public Health for NHS Cumbria. He said: “Infections arising after contact with flood water are uncommon as any harmful bugs in floodwater are usually very diluted and therefore present a very small risk if proper hygiene precautions are followed.

“If you start to feel ill after accidentally swallowing dirty water or mud, particularly if you develop diarrhoea, fever or abdominal pain within 10 days of being in contact with dirty floodwater you should contact your GP.

“The most important thing is to wash your hands and body where you’ve come into contact with dirty water. This is especially important before eating and preparing food and after going to the toilet.”

Major events such as floods, affect communities as a whole, as people who may not have their homes or cars flooded, later start to feel associated effects such as added financial pressures, the effects of having longer working days due to closed roads, or people who work in flooded businesses who have not been able to work as much as they usually do.

Anyone feeling distressed by the incidents, or notice family or friends displaying changes in behavious due to stress may benefit from speaking to someone and they can either go and speak to their GP or contact First Step by calling 0300 123 9122 themselves to get help.

First Step offers talking treatments which are designed to influence your thoughts and behaviour and can help you change the way that you feel, reducing your depression or anxiety.

There is no time limit, people start to feel or notice added pressures at different times, this is completely normal. Many people may be able to take time out or speak to someone close to them, but if this isn’t possible then we are here to help.

Posted on Tuesday 25th September 2012

 

 
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