Your health and flooding
Flooding presents several risks to health
Do not under any circumstances be tempted to enter flood water. The flow of a swollen river along with its under-current can be very powerful. Flood water may also contain raw sewage which can lead to health problems.
Infection problems arising from floods in this country are rare. Usually any harmful bugs in floodwater become very diluted and present a low risk, but there are a few precautions to be aware of when dealing with flooding which should prevent unnecessary additional health problems:
- wherever possible, try to avoid coming into direct contact with floodwater. If you have to go into the water, wear waterproof gloves and rubber boots and remember to be careful of potentially concealed hazards
- wash your hands – this is the most important way to get rid of harmful bugs. Use warm, clean water and soap, then rinse and dry your hands after going to the toilet, before eating or preparing food, after being in contact with floodwater, sewage or with items that have been in the water. Use cold water to wash if warm is not available. If there is no clean water, use disposable soapy, wet wipes or sanitising gel to carefully clean all parts of your hands and dry them
- keep open cuts or sores clean and use waterproof plasters to prevent them being exposed to floodwater
- keep children out of the water
- do not eat any food that has been in contact with floodwater or sewage
There are a number of guidance documents which help professionals and the public address those risks and clean up safely. For questions around health and flooding please follow this link to government advice. For information on what do before and after a flood follow this link.
Mental health following floods
Experiencing a flood can be frightening, and the activities of normal life can be disrupted. For most people, feeling temporarily distressed doesn't interfere with their abilities to cope with the process of recovery. However, it's important not to underestimate the stress and strain of being flooded and cleaning up after floods.
Take the time to consider your and your family’s mental health and wellbeing. Don't overdo it when cleaning up, and remember that tiredness, difficulty sleeping and anxiety are normal in these circumstances.
Our factsheet provides important advice and information about the impacts of being flooded on people’s mental health.
Take a look at the PHE website for further advice on the health effects of flooding.
In addition there are wider local offers available, as follows.
Provide a wide range of support and services for people and their families affected by mental and emotional distress. The core service is based in Shrewsbury, but other drop-in services are available in Whitchurch, Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Market Drayton. Call 01743 368647 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Shout (text service)
A free 24/7 text service for anyone worried about their mental health, available at any time, any place, for anyone in need of immediate help. Text 85258
Offer confidential listening and a safe place to talk about whatever is getting to you. Free phone on 116 123
Pick Up The Phone You Are Not Alone (suicide prevention guidance)
An online or printable resource providing guidance on what to do/who to contact if you or someone you're concerned about is having suicidal thoughts. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Free online suicide awareness training
A 20 minute online video developed by the national Zero Suicide Alliance which provides insight into how anyone can help prevent a suicide death by noticing risk, saying something and understanding how to signpost to support. We've shared this widely with our partners and would recommend as many people as possible complete it. We all have a part to play in suicide prevention and we've received a number of local accounts in Shropshire where individuals had the confidence to identify risk and intervene as a direct result of completing this training.
Resources aimed at the farming community
The Little Book of Minding Your Head
Developed by the Farm Safety Foundation specifically for the farming community and linked with the recent Mind Your Head Campaign on the yellowwellies.org website. This book provides information on understanding mental ill health, stress, depression, self-care tips and signposting for further support. A physical copy of the book is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Yellow Wellies website also has lots of resources and links to blogs from farmers who have shared their stories of poor mental health.
Shropshire Rural Support
Confidential support for people living in rural Shropshire during periods of anxiety and stress. Also has extensive network of contacts who can provide guidance and signposting to professional advice on most aspects of living and working in rural communities and businesses. Call 0300 123 2825 or email email@example.com
Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy
Confidential listening ear offering pastoral support to farmers, farming families and agricultural communities. Call 07958 591646 or 07531 676832 or follow on social media @Rurchap1.
RABI (The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution)
National Directory of Rural Support Groups (YANA Rural Mental Health Support)
Advice and guidance
To get more answers to questions you may have regarding flooding and health, and how to clean up your home safely Public Health England have prepared the following information and advice:
- Flooding: planning, managing and recovering from a flood
- Flooding health advice: mental health following floods
- Floods: how to clean up your home safely
- Flooding: questions and answers about health
This document from the Environment Agency also contains a range of useful information about what to do before, during and after a flood.
Please also look out on social media for the tweets on how to keep safe - @ShropCouncil