Flooding in different parts of Australia is quite common after heavy rainfall. To manage waste after a flood is a basic necessity.
Floodwaters lead to notable health and safety risks, including contagious water-borne diseases. You can control such risks by adequately managing waste and floodwaters after a downpour. The best course of action is to notify the local council and ask for their immediate assistance.
To make it easier for you, we’ll cover all the basics of how to manage waste and disposal after a flood. Without any further ado, let’s dig in!
What Are The Possible Health Risks From Flood Waters?
The primary health issue from floodwaters is the transmission of various water-borne diseases that can be pretty difficult to detect. These diseases can lead to diarrhea and other stomach illnesses, skin infections, wounds, and even rashes.
Floodwaters can cause severe harm to human health as they contain other harmful and toxic substances, including:
- Human and animal waste
- Household wastes
- Medical and industrial biohazard wastes
- Vehicle and lumber debris
- Animals like snakes and rodents
To avoid facing any health risks from such toxic wastes, proper disposal and management of floodwaters are imperative after a heavy flood.
How Can You Protect Your Health After A Flood?
The first step to protecting your health after a flood is to consider all flood waters contaminated. Always wear your protective gear, such as boots, goggles, and rubber gloves, while dealing with floodwaters.
Remember to wash any part of your exposed skin with clean water and soap if you have come in contact with contaminated flood water. You can even use alcohol-based sanitizers and wipes for this purpose.
Also, wash your contaminated clothes with detergent and hot water before reusing them and take immediate care of open wounds. It’s best to consult a medical professional to avoid any infection of your wounds.
Where Can You Get Safe Drinking Water After A Flood?
Shortage of clean drinking water is a common after-effect of floods as most of the private water supplies get contaminated with floodwater, chemical wastes, and debris. If your water shows distinct discoloration and tastes or smells weird, do not use it for cleaning or drinking.
You can get in touch with your local council or visit the official website of the Department of Health to know more about safely using private water resources after a flood. Also, contact your local water authority to get clean drinking water if your town’s main water supply is impacted due to flooding.
How To Manage And Dispose Of Waste After A Flood?
Sandbags are the first line of defense to prevent flood water from entering your house. The sand in these bags blocks the water flow by absorbing the floodwater. Since these sandbags come in direct contact with floodwater, they can get contaminated with pathogens, toxic chemicals, and human and animal wastes.
If you notice that your sandbags show oil and fecal matter, dispose of them in a landfill. Avoid reusing sandbags that have been directly exposed to flood water. Also, try to keep them away from areas, like playgrounds or gardens, where people might come in direct contact with the contaminated sandbags.
You might need to deal with broken fences, spoiled livestock feed, and damaged furniture after a flood. Make sure to properly manage waste and dispose of these damaged materials in a licensed landfill that’s ideal for treating timber or asbestos.
Proper management and disposal of these wastes can greatly help reduce pollution risks after floods. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) can take care of disposal, treatment, emissions, discharge, and storage of waste during any emergency.
How To Manage Dairy Stock And Dairy Waste After A Flood?
Another essential part of waste management during floods is to prevent the dairy farm effluents from washing over after heavy rainfall. Pollutants from the effluent ponds can wash over and cause contamination and severe health hazards. Ensure the effluent ponds have enough capacity so they don’t overflow during the rainy season.
Furthermore, heavy flooding can lead to the need for the disposal of several animal carcasses. Always dispose of the dead livestock in a landfill wherever possible. If you cannot move the dead animals to any nearby landfill, a limited number of the dead stock can be buried or composted on-site.
If the number is less than 150 cattle or 500 sheep, you can bury them on-site. Be careful about choosing the burial sites to avoid contaminating the ground or surface water. And make sure the dead animals aren’t spreading any foul odour or causing any health hazards to you and the neighbours after burial.
For piggeries, feedlots, broilers or egg farms, you cannot bury dead stock on-site without approval from the EPA. You should avoid burning dead stock unless it’s about disease control. In emergencies, these animal wastes must be managed immediately to minimize environmental pollution and risks.
How To Deal With Fish Deaths After Floods?
When we talk about managing animal waste after a flood, it’s necessary to address the issue of fish deaths. Heavy rains or floods wash away huge amounts of organic substances, like wood and leaves, to the water bodies from nearby floodplains and houses.
This oversaturation of organic matter inside the water bodies leads to blackening water, often known as blackwater. Under such circumstances, the natural oxygen levels of the water deplete, leading to fish deaths. You should immediately contact the EPA and report such fish deaths after floods to avoid health risks.
We come to the end of our guide on waste management and disposal after a flood to reduce health risks and environmental hazards. After going through our article, we hope you have a better understanding of the necessary steps you must take to dispose of waste after floods properly.
Remember to put on your safety gear while dealing with human and animal wastes, chemicals, and contaminated floodwaters. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the local authorities and the EPA to ask for financial assistance in case of emergencies.
On that note, we’ll sign off. Take care and stay safe!