Kimberley Floods – Health tips to protect Kimberley residents
Stay safe and protect your health
The recent floodwaters can have health and wellbeing impacts on you and your community.
Floodwaters can be very dangerous. Look after yourself and others, and do not enter floodwaters. There is a risk of drowning, being injured or getting sick from entering the floodwater.
After heavy rains and flooding, there is a greater risk of sickness caused by bacteria and other infections.
Anything touched by floodwater can be dirty from sewage.
To protect yourself and others:
- Keep away from floodwater
- Wear closed shoes, especially outside
- Wash and dry feet and shoes if you have walked in floodwater
- Keep your hands clean, especially before eating
- Cover up any cuts or wounds
- Remove clothes which have been in contact with floodwater
- If any floodwater gets on you, wash up your hands and body with clean warm water and soap, or use hand sanitiser
- Remove clothes dirty from the floodwater
- When you are cleaning up, make sure you cover up with protective clothing, wear rubber boots and rubber gloves.
If you have any of these symptoms, visit your local health centre:
- Difficulty breathing
- Cough with mucus
- Pain or difficulty when urinating, especially for men
- Skin sores that don’t heal.
Your wellbeing is important.
It is normal to feel a bit anxious and worried after an emergency.
Check in with yourself and your loved ones.
If you or someone you know needs support during this time, don’t hesitate to contact any of the services in your area or the many free to access support lines and digital services available.
Reach out to your local Social and Emotional Wellbeing Team for support.
Have a chat on the phone:
- Fitzroy Crossing: 9166 1700
- Derby: 9193 3605
- Rurallink – on 1800 552 002 (after hours support)
- 13Yarn on 13 92 76
- Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support.
Visit some helpful websites for more information and resources:
Water may be contaminated by floodwater and be unsafe to drink.
For your tap water, you may be issued a ‘boil water’ notice to avoid getting sick. You will need to boil the tap water for at least 1 minute, then let it cool before you use it to help get rid of germs.
Rainwater tank water may be unsafe. Do not use rainwater tank water for drinking until it can be checked. The tank may need to be emptied, cleaned, and sanitised before filling it back up.
After the floods, there will be lots of mosquitoes around. Mosquitoes transmit diseases which can make you really sick.
To protect yourself:
- Wear long, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs
- Apply mozzie repellent to exposed skin every 2-6 hours (read label instructions)
- Get rid of dirty water where mozzies can breed
- Try stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mozzies are about
- Keep screen doors closed.
Application of mosquito repellent (Kriol)
Your food can go bad if your power is out or your fridge is damaged.
Chuck out any food that have been in contact with floodwater.
If your power has been out, food in the fridge is only good for 4 hours, and frozen foods last for up to 24 hours. After that, you need to chuck it in the bin.
Chuck out any medications that have been in contact with floodwater.
If your medicine stays in the fridge and the power has been cut out for more than four hours, contact your local health centre for advice.
When you are cleaning up, make sure you cover up with protective clothing, wear rubber boots and rubber gloves.
- If you’re cleaning up after the floods, there may be damaged asbestos fences, walls or the roof of your home
- Be careful with poisons, chemicals, or pesticides, and contact Emergency Services if you find damaged gas cylinders.
If there is a damaged or downed power line, stay away and call Horizon Power on 13 23 51.
Asbestos can cause serious health problems and should only be removed by a licensed person. However, if there are small amounts you feel must be cleaned up and removed go to healthywa.wa.gov.au/floods for advice on safe handling.
If you need help to remove debris, call the council and/or DFES on 132 500.
Check out this helpful resource: Floodwater Tips for Cleaning Flyer
Check out the Healthy WA website for information on Recovering after the flood – clean-up for householders.
Flooding can cause mould and dampness in homes, which can make you sick.
If your house has been flooded, do not return home until you are told it is safe to do so.
Mould or mildew may develop if items are not completely dried. Mould or mildew may be removed with a solution of 70 per cent vinegar and 30 per cent water. Do not mix vinegar with bleach!
The strength of the product may ruin some household items.
Wear a mask when working with heavy mould.
Snakes, spiders and other wildlife may be on the move during a flood and find shelter and food inside houses.
To protect yourself:
- Wear boots and long pants to protect your legs
- Clean up around your home
- Clean up food waste
- If you see a snake, back up and let it go on its way
- If you are bitten by a snake or a red back spider, head to your local clinic urgently
- If you are bitten by any other spider, wash the area with soap and water, and apply a cool pack.
Dead animals need to be removed as soon as it is safe to do so. Contact your local Government for advice.
For more information:
Emergency relief and support can contact the Department of Communities Disaster Response Hotline on 1800 032 965 (Monday – Sunday 9am – 4pm).
Safety information for Kimberley communities can be found here. It includes Support Services, Financial support, Accommodation and travel support, Electrical safety and much more.