Lurking Dangers in Humble Hosepipe Prompt Safety Campaign

Royal Society for Public Health

The UK’s leading plumber accreditation body is warning householders that the humble hosepipe could be a danger to their drinking water – as well as exposing them to the risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease.

Many homeowners don’t realise how ill they can become if the water in the hosepipe “backflows” into their drinking water supply, or becomes contaminated by the potentially lethal bacteria which causes Legionnaires’ disease.

WaterSafe has now teamed up with renowned health expert Dr Susanne Lee, Director of Leegionella Ltd, to develop its top do’s and don’ts to help keep customers and their hosepipes healthy and safe.

Its hosepipe tips are:

  • DO fit an approved double check valve to hosepipes to prevent any water, or contaminants from the garden, ponds or paddling pools, flowing back into your mains drinking water supply
  • DON’T place hosepipes in drains, garden ponds, buckets or watering cans where they can be submerged as contaminated water could be siphoned back into your homes’ drinking water pipework
  • DO turn off your hosepipe at the tap and ideally fully disconnect it when not in use
  • DO fit a self-closing flow control, such as a trigger spray gun, to prevent it being used when unattended
  • DO keep your hose somewhere cool and out of the sun
  • DO gently run the water out of the hose before you use it - without any form of spray attachment on the end.
  • DON’T use a hosepipe that has been sitting around and full of warm water to fill a hot tub. The warm water within the tub will allow any bacteria – including Legionella – to quickly grow.

The advice comes after media reports emerged about the death of a 63-year-old Norfolk grandfather from Legionnaires’ disease, which may have been contracted from working in the garden with a hose.

Legionnaires’ disease is a rare form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. It is usually contracted from inhaling very small aerosols which come from sprays formed when turning on a shower, tap, flushing a toilet, or using a spa pool, hot tub or other activities which cause a spray of water – such as a hosepipe.

Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, said: “Sadly many homeowners may not realise how ill you can get if the water in your hosepipe “backflows” into your drinking water supply, or becomes contaminated by potentially lethal bacteria, such as Legionella, that can thrive in warm, stagnant water.

“These simple steps will help protect against this happening but if in any doubt, always seek advice from a WaterSafe-approved plumber who will be able to ensure you have the right safety measures in place.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health said: “Getting the message out about hosepipe safety is of great importance for the public’s health. Quick and easy measures can ensure drinking water is kept clear of contaminants to keep families safe.

“The RSPH welcomes WaterSafe’s release of their top hosepipe DO’S and DON’T’S - sensible and practical advice that will help prevent those who follow it from potentially contracting serious diseases such as Legionnaires’.”

WaterSafe is encouraging everyone to share its hosepipe safety campaign on social media with the hashtag #HosepipeSafety. WaterSafe can also be found on Twitter:  @WaterSafeUK and Facebook: /WaterSafeRegister

For help to find a local approved plumber, use the WaterSafe website postcode search.

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