Floodwaters contain many potential hazards such as downed power lines, household trash, medical waste, large debris, human and livestock waste, industrial chemicals, rodents, and snakes. Exposure to contaminated water can cause wound infections, stomach illness, skin rash, tetanus and other illnesses.
The best practice for protection is to stay out of the water, and avoid recreational play such as swimming or fishing. However, the OSDH offers the following tips for those who do come into contact with floodwater during evacuation or cleanup:
- Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles.
- Wash skin with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.
- Take care of wounds and seek medical attention if a foreign object such as wood or metal is embedded in the wound. Watch for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, draining, or developing a fever.
- Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater in hot water and detergent before reusing them.
- Do not allow children to play in floodwater, or play with toys that have been contaminated by floodwater and have not been disinfected.
As always, it’s important to remember that floodwaters may be hiding a washed out roadway or other dangerous obstacles. Never drive into flooded areas as vehicles may be swept away, or may stall in moving water. Turn around, don’t drown.
For more information about floodwater safety, visit https://go.usa.gov/xmwFW, or ready.gov. For information about tetanus shots or other services, contact a local county health department or medical provider.