Public health advice after a flood

Published 20 Feb 2023

This week, it is likely many will begin and continue with the massive clean up of the destruction left behind by Cyclone Gabrielle. This message highlights a few key points to ensure the health and safety of yourself and others when dealing with the clean up.

  • Use basic hygiene. Always wash hands with soap and water:
    • After handling items contaminated with flood water or sewage
    • Before eating or preparing food.
    • After participating in flood clean-up activities.
  • Do not allow children to play in flood-affected areas until clean-up is complete.
  • Use protective clothing (rubber gloves, boots and eye protection) while cleaning.
  • Take photos of all damage prior to clean up for insurance purposes.
  • If you source water from a tank, bore or your water supply has been issued a boil water notice. Water should be boiled for one minute before consumption. In some cases with bores and tanks, water may need to be disposed of or flushed to waste for 24 hours.
  • Contaminated food should be disposed of. Even food that is in containers.
  • If you rely on septic systems and you system has been compromised, an emergency alternative toilet option may be necessary. For more information, visit: 

For information on:

  • Flood water contamination in your house
  • Flood water contamination outside your house
  • Drying out your house
  • Removing mould
  • Dealing with hazardous substances
  • Management of dead animals

Please refer to this document for more information on Rural Health Precautions after flooding (PDF, 197KB)

Mental wellbeing and emotional support

We appreciate this will be a very difficult time for many people. For help with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing call/test “Need to Talk” on 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Or call Rural Support Trust on: 0800 787 254 to talk to someone who understands the pressures of rural life.