Guide - The dangers of flood water and how to stay safe

Last updated at 14:04
Girl rows a boat through floodwaterGetty Images

Flooding not only causes damage and disruption, it can also lead to illnesses and injuries.

Floodwater can disguise many dangerous obstacles, like uncovered manholes or debris that can cause someone to fall over.

Standing water, or water that isn't flowing, can also become a breeding ground for bugs that can make people very ill.

But with the right advice and guidance it's easy to stay safe.

Public Health England and the Environment Agency have helped us to prepare this guide.

What are the dangers of flood water?

The most obvious danger of floodwater is the risk of drowning. Water levels can rise quite quickly and catch someone off guard.

A danger sign stands in flood waterReuters
The deep water also makes it very difficult to see any obstructions that may make someone fall or trip.

Another risk can be downed power lines which may still be live.

Public Health England say the biggest unseen risk can be infections caught from dirty water.

How to stay safe

The most important thing to do is to make sure you're always with an adult or have an adult's permission to go near flood water.

The Environment Agency (EA) says to avoid walking through flood water at all, and not to walk on sea defences or river banks as these can become unstable.

It also says to take care or avoid crossing bridges when water levels are high.

Public Health England (PHE) warn that flooding often leads to a rise in the number of infections that cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

To prevent this they advice people to wash your hands thoroughly if they come into contact with floodwater.

PHE say children should not play in the floodwater.

Bike tied to a sign in DatchetAFP/Getty Images
This bike tied up in Datchet in Berkshire will need a good cleaning

Getting back to normal

Even when things are getting back to normal and the flood water has gone away, there are still many potential dangers.

PHE says it's important to take care when handling things that have been in contact with the floodwater.

This may mean you have to throw toys out if they can't be thoroughly cleaned.

It also says to avoid eating food that has touched flood water or fresh food that has been in the fridge.

Man walks through the floodwater in a kitchenAFP/Getty Images
If your home has been flooded there will have to be a massive clean-up operation before things can get fully back to normal.