Floodwater can be extremely polluted. It is important to understand how to reduce your risk of injury, sickness or infection during floods and storms.

​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 (000).

Suspicious or unusual activity can be reported to the NSW Police Crime Stoppers Hotline: 1800 333 000.

Health advice is also available 24 hours a day from healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222

It is normal to feel a mix of emotions in emergency situations and these emotions should pass with time. People who use the support of family, friends, church or other organisations are generally found to recover well from stressful situations such as these. However, there are times when extra support may be needed. If you experience a prolonged period of distress, please contact your GP. Additional mental health resources.

Flood warnings

When you know or suspect that a flood warning has been issued for your area, do the following:

  • Listen to your local radio station for updates;
  • Check that your neighbours have heard any warnings; and
  • Prepare yourself and your property.

You may also need to do the following:

  • Move garbage containers, chemicals and poisons beyond the reach of the water;
  • Secure objects that might float away and cause damage;
  • Move stock and equipment to high ground;
  • Stack your furniture and other possessions beyond the reach of the water. Place electrical goods on top; and
  • Check your car and keep it full of fuel.

The State Emergency Service (SES) is responsible for responding to floods and storms in NSW. The SES website has more information about what to do if there is a flood warning.

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has information about road closures due to floods. Ring 132 701 for the 24 hour traffic enquiry line.

Drinking water

If a ‘boil water alert’ has been issued in your area, observe it strictly to prevent illness. Water used for drinking or food preparation should be brought to a rolling boil to make it safe. Kettles with automatic shut off switches can do this. Water should then be allowed to cool and stored in a clean container with a lid and refrigerated. Alternatively bottled water may be used.
Cooled boiled or bottled water should be used for:
  • Drinking
  • Cooking
  • Washing raw foods (such as seafood or salads)
  • Making ice
  • Cleaning teeth
  • Pet's drinking water

Dishes should be washed in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher. Children should take bottled or cooled boiled water to school.

Listen to your local radio station or check social media for updates from your water supplier. When the ‘boil water alert’ is lifted, follow the water supplier’s instructions about flushing the household water pipes.

Mosquito control

Public health advice currently is for people take personal protective measures to avoid mosquito bites and consequent risk of disease. Additional measures outlined in the attached document may be considered to reduce the nuisance associated with mosquitoes.


Some medicines require storage in a refrigerator (between +2°C and +8°C). Examples of these medicines are vaccines, insulin, thyroxine tablets, immune therapies, some eye drops, some hormone products and some antibiotic mixtures for children.

If electricity has been cut off for an extended period and as a result the quality of refrigerated medicines has been compromised, the medicines concerned should be discarded, unless the medicine is essential to sustain health (e.g., insulin), in which case the medicine should continue to be used until a new supply is available.

Because temperature sensitive medicines deteriorate and lose effectiveness if not refrigerated, they should be replaced with a new supply as soon as possible. For example, insulin that is not refrigerated will have a shorter shelf life than the expiration date shown on the package.

Some medicines, such as insulin, which are normally refrigerated can be kept at room temperature (below 25°C) for a specified number of days while you are using them.  See the Consumer Medicines Information for the product.

As part of your household emergency preparedness planning, check with your pharmacist about emergency storage of refrigerated medicines and have a cool pack and cooler bricks on hand for refrigerated medicines.

Do not freeze medicines.

Medicines that have been contaminated by floodwater will not be safe to take and should not be taken under any circumstances.

If you are concerned about the safety or storage of a particular medicine, contact your pharmacist or doctor or contact Health Direct on 1800 022 222 for guidance.

For further information on storing insulin, refer to the National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) or contact the NDSS helpline on 1300 136 588.

Household and property information

Personal safety

NSW Health factsheets and resources

Additional resources

Current as at: Thursday 12 December 2019