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Posted in Water on September 18, 2018
With the death toll nearing 20, Hurricane and later turned Tropical Depression Florence has been devastating for a large part of the east coast of the United States. Virginia has suffered flooding and tornados because of the weakened storm system, but the Carolina’s without a doubt were hit the hardest.
When dealing with flood waters which seem to be everywhere people turn, the question comes up how safe are they? The answers can vary, but in general the waters are not all that safe at all. The debris that gets washed from one area to another can become dangerous because they can cut people or even cause you to lose your footing and especially in rushing waters can cause drowning. There are also infectious disease concerns as pointed out by WSB Radio in a recently published article:
Drinking or eating anything that has encountered floodwaters can lead to cryptosporidiosis, E. coli infection, or giardiasis. While cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are brought on by parasites, E. coli is caused by bacteria.
Symptoms from each include diarrhea, gas, nausea, and vomiting. Cryptosporidiosis, however, can even be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS or cancer.
Open wounds and rashes that are exposed to flood water can cause tetanus or Vibrio vulnificus. Tetanus is a bacterial infection, and it can enter the body through breaks in the skin like a cut.
Vibrio vulnificus, another bacterium, can be contracted the same way. Many people become infected by consuming undercooked shellfish or exposing an injury to brackish or salt water.
People affected by flooded areas can also get trench foot. It occurs when your feet are wet for long periods of time. It can cause pain, swelling and numbness.
This leaves us with questions such as how you should go about working in flood waters. In June, we helped in some post-flood clean up, and I was very careful and used gloves especially when handling things that had been soaked by the waters because of mold forming so quickly. The clean-up was extremely messy and I wore old clothing that if they got stained I could either toss them out or get them straight into the washer when we got home. The CDC gives us some great tips for how to handle flood waters:
Although infectious diseases are a frightening prospect, widespread outbreaks of infectious disease after hurricanes are not common in the United States. Rare and deadly exotic diseases, such as cholera or typhoid, do not suddenly break out after hurricanes and floods in areas where such diseases do not naturally occur. Communicable disease outbreaks of diarrhea and respiratory illness can occur when water and sewage systems are not working and personal hygiene is hard to maintain because of a disaster.
Get the right safety gear
If sewage is involved, make sure to wear the following during your cleanup:
To prevent mold growth:
Wash up with soap and water:
We are also warned that if waters are below 75 degrees F that you should wear insulated clothing and insulated rubber boots. You will want to take frequent breaks from the waters and change into dry clothing as soon as you can to prevent cold symptoms or even pneumonia. Just remember it is best to keep warm and dry.
No matter where Florence has affected you know that you do have a support system and reach out for help when needed. You are not alone in this. There are many different agencies helping with recovery efforts.
We at MakeFoodSafe are sending good thoughts and good vibes to our friends in the Carolinas and Virginia.