Weather events | Important Health Information
Looking after your health and wellbeing after a flood or cyclone - what you need to know (Information Booklet, PDF)
Staying healthy after a flood
> Protecting your health
> Drinking water
> Food safety
> Hand washing
> Medications and pharmacies
> Welfare support
> Flooded sports fields, parks and gardens
> Recreational water
> Mosquitoes and pest control
Protect your health after a flood
- Flood water can contain lots of nasty bugs that could make you and your family sick.
Before you start the clean-up process, read this guide on how to clean up, drain and dry out your house safely after flood damage.
- People should keep away from flood waters and from playing or swimming in the puddles, which may have been contaminated by sewage.
The quality of water supplied may be compromised during a flood. If a 'boil water' notice is issued by your water supplier, then water needs to boiled or at least 1 minute before drinking, brushing your teeth and washing fruit and vegetables.
- Some drinking water supplies had a boil water notice put in place after the Cyclone. To find out if there is a boil water notice issued on your supply the first place to check is the council’s website. Most councils also have social media, and some have opt-in text services to share water notices. If you’re still unsure, give your local council a call.
Making your water safe to drink (Information Sheet, PDF)
Advice for drinking water suppliers following a flood event - Bore water (Information Sheet, PDF)
Advice for drinking water suppliers following a flood event - Rain water (Information Sheet, PDF)
- Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water, including fruit and vegetables from your garden.
- Discard foods that have been in the freezer without power that have defrosted.
- Extensive advice on how to salvage food items and utensils is available on the Ministry of Health website.
- See also: shellfish
- Food safety (Information sheet, PDF)
- Always wash your hands with any soap and water after handling articles contaminated with flood water and after cleaning up from the flood.
- This is extremely important to help prevent the spread of disease. Flood water is potentially contaminated with faecal matter from animals and sewage and can contain lots of nasty bugs that could make you and your family sick.
Medications and pharmacies
- At this stage many pharmacies have reopened. If you are unsure, please phone ahead.
- If you are going to run out of medication in the next two days, pharmacies can dispense a small emergency supply without a prescription. If possible, this should be from your normal pharmacy. Please don’t go to the Emergency Department for your medication.
- If you can’t leave your house to get your medication, contact your pharmacy.
- If you need to stay away from your home, pack your medication and essential health items.
Welfare support | Where to get help
- If you have urgent welfare needs such as food and clothing because you've been displaced by the flooding, call:
0800 422 923
Someone will be at the end of the line to take your details, so Civil Defence can get you the help you need as soon as we can. Please only call this number if you have no other options.
- If you have no-one to stay with, call:
0800 422 923
Someone will take your details and get you the help you need.
- If you are feeling anxious or frustrated:
Talk with friends, family and whānau. If you need a counsellor, call or text 1737.
- If you need financial assistance for food or other costs:
Call the Ministry of Social Development on 0800 559 009
If you can get help from friends and family, please do so.
Remember if you need urgent help because you are in danger, call 111.
If you need health advice please contact your usual family doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116. Healthline is available 24/7 and is staffed by registered nurses who can answer questions about medication and other health concerns.
Visit www.healthpoint.co.nz to find information for urgent care clinics, pharmacies, general practices and other services.
Flooded sports fields, parks and gardens
Any sports fields, parks, or gardens which have been flooded should not be used until 48 hours after all surface water has disappeared.
This time allows for the action of the fresh air, the wind, and sunlight to decontaminate most of the bugs (bacteria, parasites and viruses) that would have been left behind by the flooding.
See also: hand washing.
Post flood advice for Education Centres (Information Sheet, PDF)
Recreational water - swimming and fishing
Hawke’s Bay beaches, rivers and streams are currently unsafe for recreation or gathering kaimoana, so please avoid all contact.
These waters are contaminated with sewage and may cause sickness if you swim, fish or gather kai in or from these waters.
This advice will be ongoing until councils can confirm that all sewage is being treated before being discharged.
The Land, Air and Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website is the best source to check for areas that are safe for swimming – and if an area is unsafe for swimming it is unsafe for gathering kaimoana.
MPI have more advice around fishing and Kai gathering at www.mpi.govt.nz/outdoor-activities/hunting-and-gathering-biosecurity-and-food-safety/food-safety-fishing-and-gathering-shellfish/.
Keeping safe whilst walking along beaches and rivers after a flood event, Information Sheet, PDF).
Mosquitoes and pest control
Flooding in the district may lead to a temporary increase in the number of mosquitoes and flies.
Residents are advised to use insect repellent to help avoid being bitten and to tip water from containers around their properties.
Click here for more information on mosquitoes and stopping them from breeding.
Information on other pest management can be found on the Ministry of Health's website