Residents urged to put safety first as floodwaters recede & clean-up begins

EMERGENCY services are urging residents in flood-affected areas along Australia’s east coast to ensure safety is maintained as floodwaters start receding and the clean-up begins.

The ongoing message for those in flood-affected areas is to put safety first. Do not put your own life, the lives of loved ones, or the lives of emergency service workers in danger.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of NSW Police Kyle Stewart said while the event was not over yet, some areas were starting the process of recovery and that generally begins with cleaning up.


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“There are still parts of the state affected by flood waters and our message remains the same – heed warnings from emergency services agencies, abide by evacuations orders and always put safety first,” Mr Stewart said.

“Floodwater is extremely dangerous as it can have fast moving undercurrents that can wash people and vehicles away. Everyone should always remember to never drive, ride or walk through floodwater.”

Acting Assistant Commissioner Stewart said as the clean-up effort begins in some areas we face a range of new challenges and safety issues.

“As some areas are starting to see flood waters recede the clean-up effort will begin,” he said.

“The effects of the clean up can be just as dangerous as the floods themselves and we are appealing to the communities impacted by the floods to take all precautions and listen to advice of the emergency service agencies.”

Household Fire Safety for flood recovery:

Members of the public in flood affected areas need to take care around their houses, properties and businesses when they start the clean-up process. Some key issues residents should observe are;

  • If you have lost household power and are using candles or portable light or heating sources, never leave them unattended and ensure they are kept well away from all flammable material.
  • Always extinguish candles or any other open flame before going to bed.
  • Don’t use BBQs LPG fuelled heating devices indoors. They give off poisonous Carbon Monoxide.
  • If you have lost household power, turn off all appliances at the power points as they may be affected by a power surge when the power resumes.
  • Any electrical appliances which may have been in contact with water must be inspected by a qualified electrician before use to ensure they can be operated safely.
  • If drying clothing, keep wet clothing at least one metre from heaters or fireplaces and never leave them unattended. If you use a clothes dryer make sure you clean the lint filter each and every time you use it.
  • If you have a garage or shed, remember to take extra care with any stored chemicals and fuels. Handle with extreme caution and use the recommended protective equipment: gloves, safety goggles, etc.
  • If you are concerned about stored chemicals, contact your local Fire Station for advice.
  • In the event of fire, leave the house and call 000 (triple zero) and ask for Fire.

Health advice for flood clean-up:

Floodwaters contaminated with sewage may carry a range of viruses and parasites. Experience from past floods shows that the greatest risk of infection is bacteria picked up through cuts and abrasions.

The most effective way of preventing infection is:

  • Thorough hand washing after contact with flood contaminated materials;
  • Wearing gloves; and
  • Avoiding contact between cuts or abrasions and flood water or contaminated materials.

People should contact their GP if they are concerned about their health. As a precaution, people should treat all floodwater as potentially contaminated with sewage.

Keep children away from flood-affected areas and avoid all unnecessary contact with mud and floodwaters.

Ensure feet are covered if they are likely to come into contact with mud and always wear gloves when handling flood affected items or mud.

Children’s toys affected by floodwater should be discarded if they are soft toys or moulded plastic toys with air injection holes. Solid toys should be disinfected before allowing children to play with them.

Resident should always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and clean water, or with an alcohol gel:

  • After handling flood-affected items;
  • When participating in flood clean-up activities;
  • Immediately after going to the toilet; and
  • Always before handling or eating food.

Members of the public in flood affected areas should continue to listen to local radio stations or check the websites listed below.

If you are seeking emergency assistance during a flood or storm, call the State Emergency Service on 132 500, or visit their website: ses.nsw.gov.au for NSW or ses.qld.gov.au for QLD.

Visit livetraffic.com for road closures in NSW or qldtraffic.qld.gov.au for closures in QLD.

Visit emergency.nsw.gov.au (NSW) or qldalert.com (QLD) for a range of disaster and flood-related information.

For weather warnings in either state, visit bom.gov.au.