Public health advice after a flood

23 September 2015

In light of the extensive flooding this week in the Tairāwhiti district and the clean-up activities that are currently underway, Hauora Tairāwhiti reminds people to take extra care with their hygiene

Flood waters are naturally full of silt and debris that may carry the causes of some kinds of diarrhoea. However outbreaks of disease are uncommon after floods.

Do not allow children to play in flood-affected areas, until the clean-up is complete. If children have been in flood affected areas make sure that they wash their hands well and change their clothes afterwards.

After being in a flood affected area remove your boots before going inside, wash hands and then shower and wash any affected clothes.

Hand washing

  • Always wash your hands with any soap and water:
  • After handling articles contaminated with flood water
  • Before eating or preparing food (and before smoking)
  • After participating in any flood clean-up activities.
  • There is no need to use special soaps or cleaners when washing yourself or your clothes

Cuts and wounds

If you have any cuts or wounds which were exposed to flood-affected waters to prevent infection thoroughly clean them by washing well with soap and water. Check with your GP, as you may need a tetanus booster. If a wound becomes red or swollen or oozing seek medical attention.


Immunisations, other than a tetanus booster for wounds, are not required.

Swimming beaches and other recreational water

After a flood people should not swim or paddle in the water or collect shellfish until the Council have advised that this is safe.

Food safety

Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. Discard foods which have been in the refrigerator without power that have de-frosted.

Need more advice? Contact:-

An Environmental Health Officer at Gisborne District Council Phone- 06 867 2049

 A Health Protection Officer at Hauora Tairāwhiti, Population Health 06 869 0500