In the midst of a heavy storm or aftermath of a hurricane, flooding presents a number of dangers to consider. One major problem is the adverse effects of pollution on floodwater. From infectious diseases to toxic fumes, your health is put at risk. With the many dangers of flood water, it’s important for you to think twice before wading through any flooded areas.
How is Flooding Unsafe?
Floodwater picks up an impressive collection of everything it touches as it spreads. Trash, oil, insects, snakes, biological waste, and more are just a handful of the hidden hazards just below the surface. Here are a few other ways floodwater can put you in danger:
- Infection of open wounds
- Toxic spread of chemicals
- Increase of ants and poisonous insects
- Force of rushing water
1) Infection of Open Wounds
Floods often carry waste from sewers or farms, filling the water with all sorts of nasty bacteria. Even floodwaters that haven’t picked up biohazards can contain potentially dangerous bacteria, especially legionella, which can give you a potentially deadly strain of pneumonia. Any of these bacteria-ridden hazards could infect an open wound, even a tiny cut, if you walk into floodwaters. Don’t take that risk.
2) Toxic Spread of Chemicals
Plenty of vehicles leak oil or other engine fluids on a regular basis. Floodwaters pick up that residue and spread it everywhere. A damaged gas station leaking fuel only contributes to this contamination. You never know what chemicals standing water picked up on its way to settle near you–play it safe and don’t let yourself get contaminated.
Pro Tip: Flooding brings dangerous aquatic creatures–especially snakes–uncomfortably close to you. Avoid entering standing water to keep yourself safe.
3) Increase of Ants and Poisonous Insects
You’re probably familiar with the fascinating but terrifying way fire ants survive floods: they group up into a floating mass of ants that drifts on the floodwaters for days or weeks until they reach something they can climb onto. It goes without saying that these islands of ants are extremely dangerous if they come in contact with humans. From a distance, these “rafts” can look like debris, making it difficult to know how much danger you’re in. The best strategy is to avoid the water altogether and stay away from debris. However, if you do find yourself covered in fire ants after accidentally touching a mound, brush them off as quickly as you can. Don’t jump in the water to wash them off–they can survive for a long time without drowning.
A less terrifying but also dangerous hazard is the increased presence of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes breed in water, and as floodwaters spread, their breeding grounds become massive and allow many more than normal to appear. Widespread floods could expose you to mosquitoes that carry dangerous diseases, and treatment can be hard to find following a severe storm. Keep insect spray close by and try to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to give the mosquitoes fewer places to bite.
4) Force of Rushing Water
According to NOAA, a mere six inches of rushing water can knock an adult down and 1-2 feet of water can stall and sweep away most cars. Don’t let the site of shallow water lull you into a false sense of security. Currents are deadly. Keep children out of the water and never walk in floodwaters yourself, even if they look shallow enough to be safe.
Limit Your Exposure to Floodwater
When we’re faced with flash floods or major storms, it can be difficult to stay healthy during the cleanup process. Don’t forget to wash your hands with antibacterial soap or wear protective clothing to ensure your safety. Additionally, make sure you have a reliable way to protect against flooding so that you can minimize your risk of illness or injury.
Connect with our flood protection experts for the best solution to keep hazardous water away from your property.