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December 4, 2022

Public Health Advice: Be safe around flood water and debris

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North Coast Population and Public Health is encouraging people to remember the basics of flood water safety following the heavy rains across the region this week.

The service says it is important to avoid unnecessary contact with contaminated floodwater, and to take precautions when dealing with floodwater because it may contain diluted sewage and contaminants, as well as debris build up from the previous flooding.

Locals are also warned to be wary of snakes, spiders and rats that may have taken refuge in or near your home.

Regional Director of North Coast Population and Public Health, Dr Paul Douglas. Image supplied

‘If you are involved in flood clean-up activities, please remember to wear safety
equipment including boots, gloves and eye protection, and remember to wash
afterwards with soap and water,’ Regional Director of North Coast Population and
Public Health, Dr Paul Douglas said.

‘First aid should be applied immediately to any scratches or cuts to reduce chances of
infection, as even minor wounds are entry points for bacteria.’

With summer around the corner, people may also be concerned about mould build-up. An important first step in addressing mould problems in your home is to remove all soft or absorbent porous materials with mould growth on them.

Next, clean all mould affected surfaces inside the house to reduce your exposure to
mould.

‘Before cleaning up mould you should protect yourself by wearing gloves, clothing that covers exposed skin, safety glasses, enclosed footwear and a respirator or face mask to protect yourself from the mould spores,’ Dr Douglas said.

Some tips on managing mould problems:

• For routine clean-up of mouldy surfaces, use mild detergent or vinegar diluted
in water solution (4 parts vinegar to 1 part water)

• If the mould is not readily removed and the item cannot be discarded, use
diluted bleach solution (250mls of bleach in 4 litres of water) to clean the
surface. When using bleach, protective equipment is recommended: PVC or
nitrate rubber gloves, safety glasses, and safety shoes. Make sure the area is
well-ventilated while you are cleaning with bleach

• Ensure the surface is complete dried after cleaning

• Absorbent materials or materials where persistent mould re-growth occurs,
such as carpet, may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced as they may
be contaminated with mould.

‘Don’t forget, the earlier you remove mould, the easier it is to get under control. If you have further questions about managing mould in your home, contact your local Council, the Public Health Unit or a cleaning professional,’ Dr Douglas added.

Further NSW Health information on mould can be found here:
https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/mould.aspx
Find more advice on staying healthy during and after floods and storms, including
printable fact sheets, visit the NSW Health website:

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/emergency_preparedness/weather/Pages/storms-and-
floods.aspx


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