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North West Hospital and Health Service urging community to stay safe during severe wet weather conditions
Communities in North West Queensland are being urged to stay safe and prioritise their health following extreme flooding and heavy rainfall across the region.
North West Hospital and Health Service (HHS) acting Chief Executive Sean Birgan said it was important for affected residents to be aware of the increased risk of infection and disease associated with floodwaters.
The risk of wound infections, dermatitis, diarrhoeal conditions and bacterial diseases such as leptospirosis and melioidosis increase with floods.
“We are urging residents to minimise health risks and avoid swimming or wading in floodwater, not only to avoid being seriously injured or drowning, but because the water may be contaminated,” Mr Birgan said.
“If you are moving around shallow floodwater, ensure solid boots or shoes are worn for protection and if any ailments or wounds become red, sore, swollen or painful, you should see a health professional immediately.”
Mr Birgan said to assume anything touched by floodwater is dirty and to take extra caution to prevent disease or infection by washing hands with clean water and soap.
“Always wash your hands with clean water or hand sanitiser before handling food. Also be aware of avoiding food that may have spoiled if power has been cut off or food has been in contact with contaminated floodwater.”
Food that has not been stored and refrigerated appropriately for some time can cause gastrointestinal illnesses which may cause vomiting, diarrhoea or sepsis.
With stagnant water providing ideal conditions for mosquito breeding, Mr Birgan said taking protective measures to avoid mosquito bites and mosquito-borne viruses was important.
“You should protect yourself by using mosquito repellent and wear long, loose-fitting clothing.”
After a severe flooding event, it is recommended that you:
- Dispose of any food or medicine that has come into contact with floodwater
- Dispose of refrigerated food that has been left unrefrigerated for more than four hours and frozen food after 24 hours
- Wear protective clothing including boots and gloves while cleaning up in floodwaters
- Boil water for drinking and cooking or drink bottled water until supplies are declared safe
- Keep petrol powered generators or pumps in well-ventilated areas when operating to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
Download the printable resources below to encourage community health, safety and wellbeing during flood disasters.
- Food Safety During Floods Printable
- Food Safety During Floods (2) Printable
- Safe Water During Floods Printable
- General Safety During Floods Printable
- Clean Up During Floods Printable
- Mosquitos During Floods Printable
- Mould During Floods Printable
For further information about floods, risks and disaster clean up, visit the resources below:
- Mount Isa Disaster Dashboard
- Understanding Flood Risks
- Dealing with Flood Disasters
- Healthy Safe Disaster Clean Up
- Health and Safety Information During Natural Disasters
To stay up to date with the latest information about the weather conditions, tune in to ABC local radio.