Lismore City News
Saturday, 2 December 2023

North Coast Public Health Unit warns of risks after the Lismore flood

Cathy Adams
Updated April 1 2022 - 4:24pm, first published 2:12pm

The North Coast Public Health Unit is reminding people to avoid contact with

Health experts say to stay out of floodwater, be careful of food contamination and to protect against mosquitoes as they pose health risks. Picture Cathy Adams
Health experts say to stay out of floodwater, be careful of food contamination and to protect against mosquitoes as they pose health risks. Picture Cathy Adams

floodwater as much as possible to reduce the risks of injury, sickness or infection.

"Floodwaters can contain many pollutants that are harmful to your health," Dr Paul

Douglas, Director North Coast Public Health Unit said.

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"Please remember to treat all floodwater as contaminated, as it can contain hazardous

substances, including raw sewage, chemicals and other contaminants, which can

easily make you sick or lead to infections such as leptospirosis. Do not allow children

to play or swim in floodwater.

"We know that many parts of our region have been severely impacted by this second

flood event, and people will be working hard to clean up around homes and


"To reduce areas for mosquitoes to breed around your home, remove all water-holding

rubbish, regularly flush out pot plant bases, keep house guttering clear, and make sure

openings of septic tanks and water tanks are covered and screened securely."

Floodwater contamination

  • If you come into contact with floodwater, wash your hands thoroughly before

eating or drinking.

  • When cleaning up, remember to wear safety equipment including boots, gloves

and eye protection.


If you do get a cut or a graze, apply first aid immediately.

  • Clean the wound with sterile or bottled water, apply antiseptic and cover


  • If you have a deep cut or wound, that has come into contact with floodwater or if

a wound develops redness, swelling or discharge, seek immediate medical


Food contamination

  • Dispose of all food, including frozen food, that has come into contact with flood


  • Some canned food may be kept but if the can is dented or damaged it should

be thrown away.

. If power is cut for more than four hours, food in fridges will spoil. Freezers will

generally not defrost and the food kept inside should not spoil for at least 24

hours if the door has been kept shut.

  • Where houses have been flooded, please look out for dangers including

contaminated medicines, unsafe electrical appliances, and damaged structures.


  • Ross River and Barmah Forest are commonly known viruses, however NSW Health is also warning the public to be alert for more serious conditions carried by mosquitoes, after cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE) were identified in NSW residents.

To minimise the risk of mosquito bites:

  • Cover up as much as possible when outside. Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
  • Use an effective repellent on all exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off with perspiration. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin. Those containing oil of lemon eucalyptus also provide adequate protection.
  • Use mosquito coils outdoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
  • Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
  • If staying in tents or caravans, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.

Further advice

For more advice on staying healthy during and after floods and storms, including

printable fact sheets, visit the NSW Health website.

In an emergency

If you need emergency assistance in a flood or storm, call the State Emergency

Service (SES) on 132 500. For a medical, police or fire emergency call Triple Zero


Cathy Adams

Cathy Adams