General flooding information
• When floodwater recedes, it may leave a muddy deposit. As well as clearing up, there may be structural damage to your property.
• Sandbags help to keep water out but they will also keep it in as the water goes down.
• Always wear rubber gloves to clean surfaces or move objects that have been in contact with the floodwater - the water will have been contaminated with sewage and other pollution.
• The Yellow Pages lists details of qualified assistance such as plumbers and electricians as well as suppliers of cleaning materials and equipment. This can be found under "flood damage".
• It may be necessary to contact utility suppliers to reconnect supplies.
• Don't use electrical circuits or equipment exposed to flood water until checked by a qualified electrician.
• Don't dispose of damaged goods until your insurers have had a chance to inspect them.
• While in the property, floorboards, walls etc will continue to dry out. Any loose material and dust resulting from this should be vacuumed up on a regular basis.
• Very young children should avoid playing directly on timber floorboards or any damaged tiled floors if possible – be aware of the risk of injury from sharp edges on tiles or raised nails in the floorboards until these have been repaired.
• Help for vulnerable and elderly people returning to their houses is available. Contact your local council via the links on the right hand side of this page.
• Contact your Doctor if you become ill after accidentally swallowing mud or contaminated water and tell him your house was flooded.
• Contact your insurance company immediately if your home has flooded as the majority of household policies provide insurance cover for flooding.
• If you are a tenant and have taken out contents insurance, household contents, fixtures and fittings should be covered. It is normally the responsibility of your landlord to provide building insurance, however you are advised to check your policy.
• If you are uninsured you will most likely be responsible for covering all costs of flood damage. Remember to keep records of damage (photos etc).
• Do not re-enter your house until all flood water has been removed. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service may be able to help you with pumping water out of your house. Please remember others may also need this help so you may have to wait your turn and there is no point pumping out rising water as it will come straight back in! (see Useful Numbers at the bottom of the page).
• If traffic is causing waves to further flood your property, contact South Yorkshire Police. Alternatively if flooding is being caused by a public sewer, in the first instance contact Yorkshire Water (see Useful Numbers at the bottom of the page).
• It is also recommended the following measures are taken:
:: Ventilate your building after flooding - less damp is less damage.
:: Put on protective clothing before starting any clean-up.
:: Remove all soft furnishings and fittings that are damaged beyond repair.
:: Remove dirty water and silt from the property including the space under the ground floor if you have wooden floors. This space may need pumping out.
:: Wash down all hard surfaces with hot soapy water.
:: Use a domestic disinfectant (following manufacturer's directions as to concentrations) to wash over all hard surfaces after cleaning.
:: Clothing, bedding and other soft/fabric articles including children's toys etc should be laundered at the highest temperature as indicated on manufacturer's instructions. If this is less than 82 degrees centigrade, the articles may still contain bacteria.
:: Other soft furnishings that have been contaminated and cannot be put in a washing machine on a hot wash (as above) will have to be professionally cleaned or if this is not possible may have to be disposed of.
:: Seek advice from your local councils (via the links on the right of the page) on clearing up if you have any doubts about it.
:: Seek professional advice (i.e. a structural engineer or builder) if your property is damaged.
If flood water has damaged your property
• If you are the property owner and you're insured, your insurers will most probably appoint a structural engineer or loss adjuster to carry out an assessment of your property and arrange repairs.
• If you are uninsured you may have to arrange this yourself. If you are a tenant, you may be responsible for the repairs, depending on your property owner. Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for further advice. See Useful Numbers at the bottom of this page.
• If your home is uninhabitable and you are insured, your insurers may help you arrange emergency accommodation.
• If you are uninsured or a tenant and are made homeless, contact your local council.
Reducing the Risk of Infection
This is general advice on protecting your health following flooding and sewage contamination of the environment.
• Do not use food which the flood water has reached. It may be contaminated.
• Any utensils which have been in the floodwater must be cleaned and boiled in fresh water before use.
• Experience from previous flooding has shown that any risk to health is small if proper precautions are followed. You do not need any booster immunisations or antibiotics.
• Floodwater and sewage often leaves a muddy deposit that may contain bacteria and other micro-organisms.
• If anyone in your family does become ill you should deal with it in the way you normally would.
• Use protective clothing such as wellington boots and household rubber gloves if involved in the clean up to minimise the risk of infection.
• Cover any cuts with waterproof plaster.
• The single most important precaution is washing your hands after any contact with flood water or sludge and particularly before eating or preparing food.
Advice from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue
- Please be patient when contacting the emergency services. People who are in distress or danger will need to be evacuated before non-urgent evacuations take place.
- Only contact the emergency services if it is a genuine emergency of life threatening situation.
- Keep away from open water such as rivers, dykes and lakes. Parents are urged to take a keen interest in where their children are at all times.
- Turn off electrical items if you are at immediate risk of being flooded.
- Move your valuables to higher levels in the home if you are at risk of being flooded.
- Ensure non-perishable food is available in your home if you are risk of being flooded.
- If you need to go out try and use public transport rather than your car.
Food preparation and storage
• Don't eat any food that has been covered by or come into contact with sewage or floodwater.
• Wash your hands before and after preparing food.
• Ensure that all surfaces that food will come into contact with are sound and disinfected. If work tops and other areas show signs of damage, avoid food contact with these areas. Particularly make sure that the shelves including those in your refrigerator where food is stored are cleaned and disinfected.
• Food preparation surfaces should be wiped down using hot tap water containing washing-up-liquid, and dishes and other utensils should also be washed in hot tap water containing washing-up-liquid. You could also use food safe disinfectant to sanitise the surfaces, dishes and other utensils.
• All crockery, pots and pans should be thoroughly washed and rinsed with hot soapy water before using. If any of these are badly chipped or damaged do not use. You could use a food safe disinfectant to sanitise them after cleaning.
• Remember that fridges and freezers may have been off. Frozen food that has been at ambient temperature for a few hours should be discarded in an appropriate manner. Check with insurers before disposal. Don’t be tempted to try and salvage damaged food – including tins as they may be contaminated with sewage and chemicals left from the floodwater.
Gardens and Play Areas
• Do not let young children play on affected areas until they have been cleaned down and restored to their normal condition.
• Children should always wash their hands after playing outdoors, especially before eating or preparing food.
Garden Vegetable Produce
• Don't eat garden or allotment vegetables that have been covered by sewage or floodwater.
• Although any health risk may be small, it is better to dispose of any contaminated produce and start again.
Barnsley Council: (01226) 770770
Doncaster Council: (01302) 736000 / Information line: 01302 735688
Rotherham Council: (01709) 382121 / Rotherham Flood Assistance Centre: 01709 376450.
Sheffield City Council: (0114) 272 6444 / Sheffield Council business helpline: 0800 915 6913
Sheffield Health Protection Service: 0114 273 5774
Humanitarian Assistance Centre in Sheffield: 0800 915 6912
Electricity blackout information (recorded message): 0800 169 2996
Yorkshire Water Customer Services: 08451 24 24 24
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (non-emergency) - dial 101
Environment Agency [Flooding information] 08459 881 188
Citizens Advice Bureau (to find your nearest CAB centre, visit the website via the link on the right of the page).
The Sheffield Forum messageboard has an online community of people helping one another after flooding. See the link on the right of this page.