Looking after yourself and your property

Thursday March 6, 2014

​The Canterbury District Health Board is advising Cantabrians to take extra care when cleaning up after the floods.
Dr Ramon Pink, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says practising some basic measures will help protect people from illness.
“Flood waters may have been contaminated with sewage and the most important thing to remember when cleaning up is to practice basic hand hygiene,” Dr Pink says.
“Always wash your hands with soap and water after being in contact with contaminated water, and after cleaning up areas affected by flooding. It’s also important not to allow children to play in flood-affected areas until the clean-up is complete.
“The forecast for the next few days is good so if your home or business has been flooded keep your windows and doors open to create the best conditions for drying.”
Dr Pink says many people in Canterbury will be struggling at the moment and it’s important to reach out and be kind.
“We’ve all been through a lot in Canterbury over the last three years and the last thing we needed was these floods. Please make an extra effort to reach out and be kind to each other, and remember that it’s ok to ask for help.”

Cleaning up a flood damaged building 

​Ministry of Health tips for cleaning up a flood damaged building include:
  • Take photos of the damage before starting the clean-up and let your insurance company know as soon as possible.
  • Take out everything that is wet and that can be moved – floor coverings, underlay, furniture, bedding, clothing, etc, and put them outside to dry when the weather is fine.
  • Remove hollow doors
  • Wash or flush down walls, shelves and floors with clear water and sweep to remove contaminated water and sediment.
    • ​Use a solution of 1 litre of household bleach in 10 litres of water to rinse down walls, floors and other equipment. 
    • Leave on for 30 minutes before rinsing with clear water. 
    • Keep windows open during this treatment.
  • ​Ensure gas, electricity, water and sewage have been checked by relevant authorities before reusing
  • Ventilate area by opening all windows or use fans
  • Ignore mould growth until area is completely dry and then remove with bleach
  • Wash cooking, eating, and any other kitchen utensils that have been covered by floodwater in hot soapy water. Wash and disinfect your can opener before using.
  • Destroy all unpackaged food and food items packed in paper, cardboard or non-waterproof material that have been exposed directly to the floodwater. If in doubt, throw it out!

Cleaning up your section after a flood

The Tasman District Council has produced useful information on cleaning up your section after flooding. Appropriate clean up procedures include:
  • Use rubber gloves and boots, and eye protection.
  • First priority should be to clear an accessway to your dwelling so you can access the house without bringing contamination in on your footwear.
  • When things have dried out you can tackle the rest of your section.
  • Use a spade or shovel to remove all gross contamination from the surface of your section. Place it at the edge of your section or other accessible area where it can easily be removed later, but ensure it does not block drainage channels.
  • Avoid contact with contaminated soil and do not eat raw vegetables or salads from soil that has been submerged in flood water.
  • Leave garden surfaces exposed to the air and sunshine to dry out naturally. Make drainage holes with a fork to aerate.
  • Sprinkle hydrated lime on ground that has been contaminated  
  • Hard surfaces such as yards can be cleaned and disinfected with bleach solution of 1.5 cups of household chlorine bleach in 10 Litres of cold water (a household bucket).
  • Wash your hands and any wet parts of your body with soap and water afterwards.
Page last reviewed: 07 March 2014