Complaining about the weather is often considered a national pastime and this summer it seems particularly appropriate. In fact, data suggests it has been the wettest summer in a decade.
While rainfall can be a sign of a healthy ecosystem, too much can present a problem that can be all too common for many UK residents – flooding.
Unfortunately, due to climate change, the UK is expected to see even more rainfall in the coming years. With more rain, comes an increased flood risk. And aside from physical damage, flooding can also pose health risks.
While usually associated with overflowing rivers or dams as a result of excessive rainfall, flooding can occur in urban areas when drainage systems on streets overflow. Regardless of its cause, floodwater could contain sewage, household waste and industrial hazardous waste. Sewage in particular, is likely to contain a variety of pollutants such as organic matter, as well as potential pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Exposure to floodwater can cause infections to wounds, rashes, gastrointestinal illness, tetanus and in some cases leptospirosis.
Even if the water eventually dissipates from your property, the health risks are likely to remain, so safety must be the number one priority when cleaning up following a flood. Here are our top tips on what to do if you have to deal with a flooded property.
Alongside the health risks, displaced pests such as rodents, as well as damaged electrical wires may be hiding in floodwater in your property. The most important first step when entering the premises following a flood is to ensure the power is turned off at the mains.
If you need to enter floodwater for any reason, you should wear protective clothing including gloves, overalls and facemasks. After exiting floodwater, be sure to wash yourself and any reusable protective items thoroughly and dispose of any other protective gear appropriately.
The first step of the cleaning process is fairly obvious – removing the water. Once the flood levels outside the property have reduced you can use a generator powered pump to remove the majority of the water from inside your property. The next step is to remove all furniture, fittings and appliances. The quicker they are removed, the quicker they can dry. If they are left in water for too long they can begin to mould, which could cause irreversible damage. All objects should be thoroughly disinfected as well.
Next all large silt or mud deposits need to be removed. These may have settled against your walls. If this is the case, be sure to remove with caution, especially deposits that have formed on opposite walls as this may have compromised the structure.
With the immediately obvious problems removed, you need to thoroughly clean the inside of your property. All surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly as some bacteria can remain on non-porous surfaces for several days and even weeks. Disinfecting property also helps to prevent mildew from forming. It’s important to hose down the outside of your property too.
The challenges of a flood clean up vary exponentially and the level of damage isn’t always obvious at first glance. It can prove very helpful to get the help of a trained professional to assess the situation before you begin, and to make sure the property is returned to its original state in the safest and most hygienic way. A hygiene professional is always able to do a general assessment of the risks, but consulting an electrician and property surveyor may also prove useful depending on the severity of the flood.
Dealing with floods can be extremely traumatic and challenging. Aside from the inconvenience and physical damage, the health and safety risks can escalate at an alarming rate. Having a clear plan can help make the task more manageable. As always, with any large cleaning job, don’t hesitate to call in a professional for assistance if you don’t feel confident in your ability to tackle the situation safely and or effectively.