Stay Safe in Floodwaters After a Storm
With hurricane season heating up, the threat of flooding is greater than ever. Flooding because of tropical storms and hurricanes can be devastating to homes and communities, which is why it’s more important to know how to stay safe and healthy around a flood. If you find yourself in a flood situation, follow these tips:
Venturing Outdoors During a Flood
You should avoid going outside during a flood situation at all costs. With that being said, it may not be always be feasible, so make sure to follow all warnings about water on roadways. Always make sure to avoid driving vehicles through the water. You should make sure that you are prepared with the proper gear including a life jacket, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with insoles and steel toes to protect yourself from injury. Additionally, you should wear clothing that covers as much of your body as possible to prevent touching the potentially contaminated water.
Disinfecting Your Water
The largest threat you will face during a flood is water contamination. You should always make sure to wash your hands as well as any other part of your body that comes into contact with floodwaters to reduce the risk of disease. If possible, stick to drinking water that is sealed in water bottles. There may come a time that you will need to disinfect water in order to wash your clothes or for personal hygiene. To do this, you simply need to mix ⅛ teaspoon of household bleach for every 1 gallon of water and let the mixture sit for thirty minutes before using.
Be Aware of Waterborne Illness
Waterborne diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms and are typically transmitted through contact with contaminated water. Infection can occur when contaminated water is ingested, but it can also occur when using the water to wash or bathe. The two most commons waterborne diseases are leptospirosis and typhoid fever. Here are the symptoms that you should look out for if you believe you have been in contact with these diseases. If you think you might have contracted these or any other illness, contact your doctor or local emergency services personnel immediately:
Leptospirosis is caused by the bacteria leptospira, and is typically contracted from animals. This bacterium is found in animal urine. During a flood, people may contract this disease from an open wound or through skin that has had prolonged contact with the contaminated water.
After contact with floodwater, symptoms may include:
- Muscles aches
- Watery eyes
- Inability to look at bright lights
- Infection of the eyes causing them to turn red
Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria called salmonella typhi, which can be found in both food and water. Infection occurs from eating or drinking any contaminated food or water, but symptoms may not appear for at least a week, meaning you may not even be aware you contracted the disease.
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach bloating
*Symptoms may go away on their own in a few weeks to a month, but it is important to seek medical attention to prevent your symptoms from worsening and developing into pneumonia
Avoiding typhoid fever is simple, but important: make sure to eat clean food and drink clean water, preferably from a sealed container. By taking the proper steps to protect your food and water from contamination of floodwaters, you ensure protection against contracting typhoid fever.
Ensuring your safety during and after a flood is crucial. Make sure to be aware of the basics and follow these tips to keep you and your family safe during any flooding situation.