There is never a convenient time to experience an outdoor sewage spill, but what matters the most is how you react to it. On first discovering the incident, it is crucial to carry out a quick response in order to stand the best chance of saving your garden and surrounding property. However, in order to respond quickly, you first need to know what to do. So we’ve created a handy outdoor sewage clean-up guide that covers, how to practice proper hygiene, how to clean up the spillage and how to restore contaminated materials.
Outdoor Sewage Cleaning Guides
How to practice proper hygiene
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:
- Waterproof boots
- Mask/face visor/safety goggles
- Thick clothing (preferably old clothes you don’t mind throwing away after)
- Waterproof overlays
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 few other things you should bear in mind when in close proximity to raw sewage:
- Never eat or drink when in the same location as the contaminated area. Spilt sewage has very harmful microorganisms that can enter the body if the necessary precautions are not followed.
- It’s important to always practice good personal hygiene. This includes washing your hands after every encounter with the sewage.
- Cover up any cuts or grazes to prevent them from coming into direct contact with the wastewater.
How to clean up outdoor sewage spills
Now it’s time to face the music and begin the clean-up, so let’s take a look at the steps to follow to ensure a thorough clean, so you can get back to normal as quick as possible!
Secure and prepare the area
- Quarantine the whole of the affected area – children and pets should be kept well away from the vicinity. This may be difficult, especially if you have young children who want to go outside and play, or if you have a dog who needs to go outside regularly, but it is vitally important you do not let them near it in order to avoid any illness or further contamination.
- Turn off the water supply as soon as possible to reduce any more sewage from being pumped out.
- Any items or objects that can be moved, should be removed straight away. This could be garden furniture, toys, washing line props and pegs etc. as these can be disinfected at a later time.
Eliminating the sewage
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. Here’s how we suggest you use it:
- Sprinkle the lime to the affected area until it is covered in a white dust.
- If the sewage is thicker in certain areas, you may need to mix the lime in to help it work better – use a rake or spade to do this.
- Leave to stand for 24 hours.
- Collect the thicker residue using a rake. Place in a bin bag to dispose of it (double bag if heavy).
Following on from this, if the sewage spill is minor:
- Use a hose, sprinkler or watering can to water over the area (depending on how large it is).
- Let the area dry out in the sun for a day. Sunlight helps kill bacteria so don’t rake the affected area straight away as this can slow down the process.
- If you can still see white dusting of the lime, water over it again until it disappears.
Likewise, if the sewage spill is major (or there is a lack of sun, perhaps in the winter months):
- Using a vacuum tanker, huge amounts of liquid can be extracted from the ground. Any solid waste and debris that is left behind will need to be removed by hand and placed into bin bags, then into the rubbish.
- The liquid sewage collected by the vacuum tanker will need to be disposed off in a responsible place, such as a cesspool.
Once all the sewage has been removed, mix a solution of bleach and water and cover the entire area (everywhere you applied the lime to). This will further disinfect the contaminated region.
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.
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!
Once the sewage is cleared up, you will still (unfortunately) be left with the aftermath of any contaminated items that need disinfecting. The longer objects are left, the higher the risk of fungal growth, so like everything, it is important to act as quickly as possible.
- Driveways, patios, decking, ornaments, tables, benches and other garden furniture or hard surfaces should be scrubbed clean with hard bristle brush, using hot water (as hot as you can stand it – use gloves to help withstand the heat), bleach and soap.
Remember: The bleach can kill grass and plants so take extra care.
- If, unfortunately, your washing was hanging out to dry, then you should throw away any clothes that have been completely submerged in the sewage. Anything that has only encountered the sewage a small amount can be washed on a hot wash (not mixed with any non-affected clothes though) or failing this, they should be taken to the dry cleaners.