A Downed Animal Is Dead What Should I Do Next The Visible and Hidden Dangers of Flood Water

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The Visible and Hidden Dangers of Flood Water

You’ve seen the TV footage — flood victims wading through water, children jumping into floodwaters to cool off, and floating debris rushing downstream. Flood water contains both obvious and hidden dangers. What are they?

1. Fast current. Minneapolis MN, on its website, says as little as six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet. Two feet of fast-moving water can wash away cars. The current can move faster than it seems. Young children, the elderly and the disabled are vulnerable to rapid current.

2. Toxic chemicals. The chemicals in flood water depend on location. In agricultural areas, water may contain animal excrement, fertilizers and pesticides. According to the CDC, flood water may also contain battery acid. OSHA reports that flood water may also contain gasoline, overflow from toxic waste sites, and manufacturing chemicals.

3. Dead and living animals. Floodwater kills livestock — cows, pigs, sheep, poultry — and family pets. The dark and murky water also contains live snakes and rats that are dangerous to humans.

4. Electrical hazards. According to OSHA, flood water can become charged with electricity from underground or downed power lines. Victims should not return to their homes until the power is turned off.

6. Hazardous waste. Rushing flood water can contain railroad ties, trees, tree limbs, home propane tanks, gas grill tanks, furniture, children’s playsets/toys, and even houses. These heavy debris can cause serious injury.

7. Infectious organisms. The US Department of Labor says flood water can contain E. Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Hepatitis A Virus and Typhoid. Flood water also attracts mosquitoes. According to the West Virginia University Extension Service, “pools of stagnant water become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of West Nile virus and encephalitis.”

Although most floods do not cause serious outbreaks of disease, it is good to be prepared. These tips will help protect you from the dangers of flood water.

* Get a tetanus shot or booster.

* Wear gloves and rubber gloves.

* Protect your eyes with goggles and your lungs with a face mask.

* Use insect repellent.

* Cover arms and legs.

* Drink bottled water from safe bottling plants.

* If safe water is not available, disinfect the water with a solution of five drops of household bleach to one gallon of water.

* Rinse water storage containers with bleach solution.

* Wash hands with disinfected water and soap.

* Clean wounds and open cuts with alcohol.

* Throw away all contaminated food, including dented cans.

The best way to deal with a flood disaster is to prepare for it. For more information, go to the American Red Cross website and print the Disaster Supply Kit.

sources

– American Red Cross, “Disaster Supply Kit”

– American Red Cross, “Fixing Your Flooded Home”

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “After a Flood”

– City of Minneapolis, “Flood Safety”

– Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Flood Cleanup”

– West Virginia University Extension Service, “How to Protect Yourself When Cleaning Up After a Flood”

Copyright 2008 by Harriet Hodgson

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