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river flooding

Flooding presents a number of risks to health, drowning being the most obvious. Serious injury can be caused by falling into fast flowing water or from hidden dangers under the water, such as missing manhole covers. The stress and strain of being flooded and cleaning up can have a notable impact on mental health and wellbeing.

There is also a serious danger posed by carbon monoxide fumes from the indoor use of generators to dry out buildings. Infections arising as a result of floodwaters in this country are rare as harmful microbes in floodwater usually become very diluted. There are, however, a number of precautions you can take.

Flooding: advice for the Public (PDF, 5.3 MB) 

Health advice: general information about mental health (PDF, 164 KB) 

Floods – how to clean up your home safely (PDF, 176 KB)

Guidance on recovery from flooding: essential information for frontline responders (PDF, 560 KB)

Flooding and mental health: essential information for front-line responders (PDF, 175 KB) 

2014 flooding surveillance summaries

Answers to frequently asked health questions about flooding.

Flooding and Public Health England

In the event of major floods, Public Health England  works with local agencies, including the NHS, police, local government and Environment Agency to provide expert advice on protecting the health of the local community, particularly from microbiological and chemical hazards.

Our local health protection centres, liaising with national colleagues who specialise in environmental hazards, infectious diseases and emergency planning, can provide a focal point for health protection advice to local responders and the public. The Environment Agency has a key role in warning people about the risk of flooding, and in reducing the likelihood of flooding from rivers and the sea.


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