The Big River Sailing Club was under water as the Clarence River reached moderate flood level of 3.6m at Grafton on Friday afternoon, February 14, 2020.
The Big River Sailing Club was under water as the Clarence River reached moderate flood level of 3.6m at Grafton on Friday afternoon, February 14, 2020.

Don’t play in contaminated floodwater says health unit

AFTER recent flooding in the Clarence and Orara rivers, the North Coast Public Health Unit has urged people not to swim or play in floodwater due to potential contamination.

Acting Director Public Health Greg Bell said people who came in contact with floodwater could be exposing themselves to diluted sewage, bacteria, chemicals and physical hazards.

"While the risk of infection from contact with floodwater is generally low, it is important to stay away from flood-affected areas and avoid unnecessary contact with mud and floodwaters," Mr Bell said.

"Swimming in contaminated water may cause illness, including ear infections, eye infections, fever and diarrhoea."

Residents and visitors are advised to avoid swimming in the ocean, rivers, creeks and lagoons for at least three days after the rain has stopped and to also avoid swimming if there are signs of pollution such as discoloured water, oil or scum on the water, and litter or other debris floating in the water or on the tide line.

When coming into contact with floodwater or items contaminated by floodwater people should:

• ensure that feet are covered and always wear gloves

• always wash hands thoroughly with soap or alcohol-based hand cleanser.

• cover cuts and abrasions; and

• if you cut yourself on something that has been contaminated with floodwater, check with your GP about your tetanus vaccination.

To avoid illness, it is important to wash hands with soap and clean water after participating in any flood clean-up activities, and before eating or handling food.