This page gives advice on what steps can be taken if you have suffered from flooding to your home or garden.
Does sewage flooding pose a health risk?
Sewage largely consists of water and domestic waste from bathrooms and kitchens.
Providing that you adopt normal basic hygiene precautions and follow the instructions on this page, you are unlikely to be at any increased health risk. Basic hygiene precautions should include:
- Wearing waterproof gloves and/or rubber boots as appropriate when in contact with the sewage
- Washing hands after exposure (use warm, clean water and soap, then rinse and dry your hands)
- Ensuring children wash their hands after exposure
- Decontaminating footwear by washing and treating with a mild disinfectant
- Keeping children and pets out of the contaminated area
However, in the unlikely event of you feeling unwell, we recommend you visit your GP as a precautionary measure and explain that your property has recently been flooded.
Homes that have suffered flooding
How can the contamination to my house be cleaned up?
- Remove excess liquid (pumping/sweeping, as appropriate)
- Remove any sewage debris/faecal contamination
- Leave the contaminated area to dry
- Apply a mild disinfectant (powerful disinfectants, such as strong bleach, are not necessary and may be harmful to surfaces)
Disinfection should remove all bacteria with 24 to 48 hours.
Will the electrics be safe in the house?
If any electricity circuit or equipment has been immersed you will need to ensure that the system is safe before using any appliances/equipment. A qualified electrician best undertakes this safety inspection.
What precautions do I need to take to prevent further contamination in my house?
The following simple rules should be followed:
- Do not wipe over the disinfected areas, as this will reduce the effectiveness of the disinfectant.
- Where possible, windows should be opened to remove disinfectant odours.
- Do not turn your heating up to dry the property during the first 48 hours as higher room temperatures may prolong the life of the bacteria.
If you need to enter the affected rooms within the 48 hours after the initial clean up, you are advised to adopt normal basic hygiene precautions such as not touching your mouth, and washing your hands afterwards.
After the 48 hours the bacteria in your home should have reverted to the normal background levels.
Gardens that have suffered flooding - How will the contamination to my garden be cleaned up?
It is not normal practice to apply disinfectant to gardens as this can kill plants and do more harm than good. However if you feel this would give you extra reassurance then a mild disinfectant can be applied.
The best treatment is to allow nature to take its course. As most contaminants will be near the surface, this will produce the maximum exposure to the sunlight's ultra violet (UV) radiation which is very effective in killing such bacteria.
Hard surfaces such as paths and drives can be cleaned and disinfected. We suggest you keep off this area for up to 3 hours to give the disinfection time to take effect.
What precautions do I need to take to prevent further contamination of my garden?
It is important that you do not attempt to dig or rake the affected area. This will spread the contamination further into the soil or turf, where lack of sunlight and damp conditions will enhance the life of the bacteria.
Similarly you should not attempt to hose the garden down as this will saturate the ground and prolong the life of the bacteria.
The bacterial contamination will die off naturally during the days following the flooding. After an appropriate period your garden should be safe to resume normal activities. (Factors, which influence bacteria decay periods, include climatic conditions such as temperature and moisture, vegetation and soil type).
Bacteria should return to background levels, following
- 9 Days, on warm dry summer conditions
- 12 days on damp cool spring/autumnal conditions for flooding onto grass/heavy soils and 26 days onto loose soil/sand.
- 25 days, on wet cold winter conditions
After this period the bacteria in your garden should have reverted to its normal levels.