Clarence News & Info

North Coast

Public Health Advice – ongoing risks of flood water

The North Coast Public Health Unit is reminding people to avoid contact with floodwater as much as possible to reduce the risks of injury, sickness or infection.

“Floodwaters can contain many pollutants that are harmful to your health,” Dr Paul Douglas, Director North Coast Public Health Unit said.

“Please remember to treat all floodwater as contaminated, as it can contain hazardous substances, including raw sewage, chemicals and other contaminants, which can easily make you sick or lead to infections such as leptospirosis. Do not allow children to play or swim in floodwater.

“We know that many parts of our region have been severely impacted by this second flood event, and people will be working hard to clean up around homes and businesses.

“To reduce areas for mosquitoes to breed around your home, remove all water-holding rubbish, regularly flush out pot plant bases, keep house guttering clear, and make sure openings of septic tanks and water tanks are covered and screened securely.”

Floodwater contamination

  • If you come into contact with floodwater, wash your hands thoroughly before eating or drinking.
  • When cleaning up, remember to wear safety equipment including boots, gloves and eye protection.


  • If you do get a cut or a graze, apply first aid immediately.
  • Clean the wound with sterile or bottled water, apply antiseptic and cover immediately.
  • If you have a deep cut or wound, that has come into contact with floodwater or if a wound develops redness, swelling or discharge, seek immediate medical attention

Food contamination

  • Dispose of all food, including frozen food, that has come into contact with flood waters.
  • Some canned food may be kept but if the can is dented or damaged it should be thrown away.
  • If power is cut for more than four hours, food in fridges will spoil. Freezers will generally not defrost and the food kept inside should not spoil for at least 24 hours if the door has been kept shut.
  • Where houses have been flooded, please look out for dangers including contaminated medicines, unsafe electrical appliances, and damaged structures.


  • Ross River and Barmah Forest are commonly known viruses, however NSW Health is also warning the public to be alert for more serious conditions carried by mosquitoes, after cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE) were identified in NSW residents.

To minimise the risk of mosquito bites:

  • Cover up as much as possible when outside. Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
  • Use an effective repellent on all exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off with perspiration. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin. Those containing oil of lemon eucalyptus also provide adequate protection.
  • Use mosquito coils outdoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
  • Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
  • If staying in tents or caravans, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.

Further advice

For more advice on staying healthy during and after floods and storms, including printable fact sheets, visit the NSW Health website.

In an emergency

If you need emergency assistance in a flood or storm, call the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500. For a medical, police or fire emergency call Triple Zero (000).