When news media show people, including children, walking or driving through flood waters, the dangers may not be obvious. But flood water is dangerous.
Here's why you should make sure your employees avoid contact with flood water as much as possible - and advise those with flooded homes or facilities to do the same:
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.
Bottom line: 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.
Check your own state and county health department websites for more information and bookmark them for future reference. They are valuable resources to flood water hazards specific to your area.