Floodwater is often contaminated by sewage from overflowing sewerage or septic systems, and by agricultural or industrial wastes and chemicals. There is a higher risk of infection by coming into contact with polluted water or soil. You could end up with diarrhoea and vomiting, wound infections, dermatitis, conjunctivitis or ear, nose and throat infections.
Tips to avoid infection
- Don’t wade through water, even shallow water. If you must enter shallow water, wear solid boots or shoes for protection.
- Try to avoid contact with mud and dirt and wear gloves when handling items contaminated with floodwater.
- Always wash your hands with soap and running water before handling or eating food, and after handling pets or other items that may have been in contact with water or soil. Always wash your hand thoroughly after participating in clean-up activities.
- Any household items or areas that were contaminated by floodwater should be washed well, including hard surfaces such as floors and paved areas.
- Wear protective clothing, including gloves if available. Wash your hands well with soap and running water once you’ve finished.
- Grassed and bare dirt areas should be left to dry out naturally.
- Read the Insurance Council of Australia's tips to assist during flood recovery.
- Handwashing poster (PDF, 162KB)