Flood - cleaning up
Please be aware that the flood water affecting your property may have been contaminated with sewage and other contaminants.
Although it is likely to be very diluted and only present a low risk, we would advise you take precautions when cleaning up after a flood.
Cleaning up the house after the flood
- Cover open cuts and wounds with a waterproof plaster and wear rubber gloves.
- Remove all soft furnishings and fittings that are damaged beyond repair.
- Remove all dirty water and silt from the property as much as possible, including out of the space under downstairs floorboards if you have these. This may require pumping out.
- Turn off the power supply before attempting to lift floorboards.
- Wash down all hard surfaces with hot soapy water several times until visually clean. Use a domestic disinfectant, following manufacturers directions as to concentrations, to wash over all hard surfaces after cleaning.
- Food preparation surfaces and storage cupboards, refrigerators etc should be washed down with food-safe disinfectants such as Milton or Dettox.
- Allow to dry thoroughly - this will also help to destroy any germs left behind. Heating and good ventilation will assist the drying process.
Clothing and bedding
Bedding and other soft or fabric articles including children's toys should be laundered on a hot wash (60°C and above) which will destroy any germs.
Other soft furnishings that have been contaminated and cannot be put in a washing machine will have to be professionally cleaned. If this is not possible they may have to be disposed of.
If the flood water contained oil, diesel or other contaminants this should be removed with the flood water and silt. Any remaining oil or diesel contamination in areas that you can reach can be removed by using a detergent to wash the surface down, after initial cleaning has been carried out.
In areas that you can't reach such as under floorboards it may smell, but is not necessarily a health hazard. Further advice is available from the council’s Environmental Health team if the smell persists or if you are particularly concerned about it for other reasons.
Returning to your home
It is recommended that you only fully re-occupy your home once all the deep cleaning has been carried out. There may be additional works to be carried out eventually as advised by your insurance company, housing officer, landlord, builder etc. If you decide to return to your home before this further work is completed you should:-
- Try to have some heating on at all times, consider the use of a dehumidifier.
- Ensure the property is well ventilated. Leave windows open as much as possible. Remember security though!
- Ensure that if you have air bricks to any under floor spaces that these are unblocked to give cross ventilation to these areas.
Food preparation and storage
- Ensure all surfaces that food will come into contact with are not damaged and have been disinfected. If work tops and other areas show signs of damage avoid contact with food in these areas. Particularly make sure that shelves, including in your fridge, are cleaned and disinfected.
- Keep any opened food in a sealed box or tin.
- All crockery, pots and pans should be thoroughly washed with very hot soapy water before using. If any of these are badly chipped or damaged do not use. You could also use a food-safe disinfectant, such as Milton, to sanitise them after cleaning. Follow the instructions carefully.
- Ensure taps are cleaned and disinfected before using them for the first time.
- Take particular care in preparing food, always wash your hands before starting.
Other health issues
If you follow the basic advice provided here you should not experience any additional health problems. It is possible that the ‘stress’ caused by the incident may well make you feel unwell in some way. This does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from any infection or disease. However, if you are concerned - visit your doctor, who can also arrange counselling for you.
Floorboards and walls will continue to dry out over time. Any loose material and dust from this should be vacuumed up on a regular basis.
Very young children should avoid playing directly on timber floorboards or any damaged tiled floors. Be aware of the risk of injury from sharp edges on tiles or raised nails in the floorboards until these have been repaired.
Help for vulnerable and elderly people returning to their houses is available from Nottinghamshire County Council Social Services.
- Do wash your hands properly if you have been in contact with flood water or silt. Take particular care when preparing or eating food.
- Contact your insurance company (if relevant) and make an list of all damaged goods, including food. If you can, take photographs or videos.
- Put contaminated or damaged food in black plastic bags, seal and put in your wheelie bin. Please check with your insurers before you throw anything away.
- If you accidentally swallow mud or contaminated water and you become ill contact your doctor immediately.
- Replace manhole covers dislodged by the flood.
! Don’t be tempted to try and salvage damaged food - including tins, jars and packets - as it may be contaminated with sewage or chemicals left from the flood water.
! Don’t switch on electrical appliances which have been in contact with the flood water unless a competent electrician has checked them. East Midlands Electricity will be checking mains supplies.
! Don’t eat garden or allotment vegetables that have been covered by flood water. Leave undamaged vegetables in the ground for at least another 2 weeks and then only use them after thorough washing and cooking.
For further advice, please contact us.
Help with council tax
You may be able to qualify for help with your council tax bill if your home is affected by flooding.
To qualify, you must have had to move out of your home while work is carried out to make your home habitable again. We will need evidence of the work being undertaken and also details of your new home while the work is happening.
Please contact us for more details if you think this applies to you.
Food premises affected by flooding
If your food business has been affected by flooding, there may be a serious and imminent risk to health.
All food premises affected by flooding MUST contact the council's Environmental Health team.