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Recovering from a flood

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Being flooded can be stressful enough, but dealing with the aftermath can prove a real challenge. Read our tips for coping

Keep safe

Remember that floodwater is dangerous.

Risk of drowning is a serious hazard during flooding. For instance, six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and two feet of water will float your car.

Floodwater can lift manhole covers, exposing dangerous holes you won't be able to see.

Children are at particular risk, so don't let them play in floodwater.

Avoid risk of infection from water

Infections from bugs in the water are rare in the UK during floods, but it's wise to take precautions.

  • Try to avoid coming into contact with floodwater but if you have to, wear waterproof gloves and rubber boots
  • Wash your hands after coming into contact with floodwater, or use wet wipes or antiseptic hand gel
  • Keep any cuts or sores away from contamination
  • Seek medical advice if you feel unwell or accidentally swallow contaminated water, mud or sewage
  • Parents with infants who develop diarrhoea and vomiting should seek medical advice

Coping without mains water

Flooding can sometimes disrupt supply of mains water. For instance, groundwater can enter the network through a cracked pipe.

Your local water supply company has a duty to protect public health and will make clean water available if there is a problem with the supply

You may:

  • Be advised to boil tap water before drinking it
  • Receive deliveries of bottled water
  • Be supplied with clean water by bowsers - large water transporters

Remember that apart from using clean water to drink, you should also use bottled or boiled water to wash food, cook, make ice and brush your teeth.

If you are formula feeding your baby, bottled water, or boiled bowser water, will be safe. Cover it and leave to cool for no more than half an hour.

If you are buying your own bottled water, be aware that some mineral waters have high sodium content. Ones that are suitable will have a sodium level (sometimes marked as 'Na') no higher than 200 mg per litre.

Alternatively, use ready-made formula.

What about food?

The Food Standards Agency advises people not to eat to any food that has come into contact with floodwater or sewage. Do not use any contaminated products grown in your garden or on an allotment unless they have been cooked first.

Make sure that crockery, pots and pans have been washed with clean water and detergent.

Remember to wash your hands before and after preparing food.

If the electricity supply has been interrupted, food in your fridge and freezer will need to be discarded as it can go off or defrost after a few hours.

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