PEOPLE starting to return to their homes after flooding on the Somerset Levels are being reminded of the risks associated with clearing up after the waters have receded.

The agencies supporting those affected by flooding on the Levels are warning of the dangers of carbon monoxide and possible electrocution.

The service’s advice includes it is dangerous to operate any electrical devices or machinery in wet conditions, such as flooded properties; never use outdoor petrol or diesel generators indoors, even in the event of a power cut, as the exhaust fumes may contain carbon monoxide which can kill in a confined space such as a home; after being flooded, remember not to turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician.

Group Manager Gavin Ellis, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “As the water recedes, residents may be tempted to get rid of it as quickly as possible, by buying or hiring their own pumps.

“All pumps should be used in conjunction with the manufacturer’s guidance as there could be safety implications if not used correctly. Fuel-driven pumps can produce carbon monoxide, which can be fatal in a confined space. You can’t see or smell it, but it is extremely dangerous.”

Even low-levels of carbon monoxide poison can cause lasting damage to your health. The symptoms are similar to the ’flu and can include nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, stomach pains and chest pains.

Group Manager Ellis added: “If you experience these symptoms but feel better when you are outside or away from the appliance, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Also, electrical pumps used where the power outlet is close to flood water could increase the risks of electrocution.”

There is a concern that people may be using electrical submersible pumps without adequate protection.

A supply of residual current devices or circuit breakers are available free at the Junction 24 Donations Centre, North Petherton.