An outdoor sewage spill can result in areas of land, perhaps a garden, drive or patio, being contaminated with potentially harmful substances.
It is very important that you respond quickly but carefully to such an emergency. In some instances, it may be possible for a householder or business owner to clear up a small sewage spillage by themselves.
On first discovering a sewage spill incident, it is crucial to carry out a quick and accurate assessment of the scale of the problem to stand the best chance of saving your garden and surrounding property from serious, potentially long-term harm.
However, your first consideration should be your own personal safety and the safety of others. Sewage contains potentially very harmful – and in the worst cases, deadly – bacteria, viruses and parasites, so personal protection is vital.
Before you begin to do anything at all, you should first see that you are wearing the correct protective clothing, to keep any risk of infection or contamination at bay. The recommended protective clothing includes:
Once the clear-up is complete, throw away old clothes you were wearing, or if you want to keep them, make sure you wash them on their own, on a hot wash setting (60°C).
There are also a number of important safety matters you should always bear in mind when in close proximity to raw sewage:
Now it’s time to begin the clean-up. So let us take a look at the steps to follow to ensure the outdoor sewage clean is thorough, so you can get back to normal as quick as possible.
Agricultural lime is an excellent substance that reduces the odour of sewage and encourages the breakdown of organic matter, as it works to increase the pH to above 12.0. This can be purchased from most garden shops and is highly recommended when it comes to clearing up outdoor sewage spillages.
Once all the sewage has been removed, mix a solution of bleach and water and treat the entire area (everywhere the lime was applied). This will further disinfect the contaminated region.
Following on from this, if the outdoor sewage spill is minor:
Although it has already been mentioned previously, it cannot be stressed enough how absolutely vital it is that all pets and children are kept away from the contaminated area throughout this whole process – as the lime and bleach can be just as harmful as the raw sewage itself.
If you are facing a major sewage spill, professional equipment and techniques will be needed. Major sewage spills will be ones that, for example, leave pools of sewage across large areas, or pools of sewage that, because of the topography of the ground, are particularly deep. These are the most hazardous.
The kind of professional outdoor sewage cleaning equipment that will be used includes:
Please note: If you used the land to grow crops, leave it to stand alone for 12 months before using the land for this purpose again.
Once the sewage is cleared up, you are still likely to be left with contaminated items that need disinfecting. The longer objects are left, the higher the risk of growth of harmful microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Therefore, it is vital to act as quickly as possible. Remember, equipment used to tackle the sewage spillage should also be thoroughly cleaned to remove contamination.
Driveways, patios, decking, ornaments, tables, benches and other garden furniture or hard surfaces should be scrubbed clean with a hard bristle brush, using hot water (as hot as you can stand it – use gloves to help withstand the heat), bleach and soap.
If any washing had been hanging out to dry and it had been contaminated, there are two options. If the clothing or linen was completely submerged in sewage it should be thrown away.
Any items that may have just been splashed with sewage may be salvageable by being washed on a hot wash (not mixed with any non-affected clothes. Or they should be taken to a dry cleaners for professional cleaning.
As you can see, cleaning up sewage spillages can be fraught with risks, both to personal safety, the safety of children and pets, and potential pollution of the environment and wildlife.
We would strongly recommend that only the smallest outdoor sewage and wastewater spillages should be dealt with by a householder or a business themselves. It is worth noting, also, that cleaning the sewage may be covered by your buildings insurance.
The key message, though, is that larger spills and floods need the professional attention of sewage cleaning specialists. They know what they are doing, have the right equipment and can tackle sewage spills quickly and safely, providing customers with a permanent solution.