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What Makes Flood Waters So Dangerous
With devastating floods, some dangers are not obvious. The news media show people, including children, walking or driving through flood waters. But flood water is dangerous. Refresh your memory about why contact with flood water should be avoided as much as possible: 
  • Many animals including poisonous snakes, insects and parasites (including leeches) may be swimming in the water. Decaying animal carcasses, disease-carrying rodents and feces may also be present.
  • A live power line can give way and land in standing water creating a life-threatening situation. And, floods typically disable power supplies creating other dangerous conditions.
  • All manner of debris is in the water—torn metal, broken wood and glass, displaced furniture, implements, etc.
  • Moving water is powerful. People and vehicles are swept away by water that did not seem too deep or fast.
  • Sewer overflow is a hazard. Even floods that stem from recent rainfall could have migrated through an industrial or sanitary sewer. The composition of this water would include dangerous chemical waste and microbes.
  • When flood waters cover a storm drain or sink hole, a whirlpool may or may not be visible above the area. Make every step with caution.

The moral of the story: Avoid contact with contaminated water whenever possible and always use appropriate protective equipment. In the event that contact occurs, wash skin and clothing as soon as possible. Check the skin for parasites, abrasions and cuts. Keep your vaccinations up to date. If you ingest any flood water through your mouth or nose, seek medical care as soon as possible.

Also consult and bookmark the websites for your own state and county health departments. They are valuable resources.