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How Flood Waters Can Affect Your Health

Flood Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Although the initial threat of a storm may have passed, the dangers are not over. Rising flood water can put you and your family at risk for a range of different concerns, including health problems, safety issues, infectious hazards and more. It's crucial to be aware of the hidden dangers and diseases caused by water. Find out how you can actively stay safe below.

Health Risks and Other Dangers from Flood Waters

Flood water damage – especially when caused by the dramatic water levels Harvey produced – can lead to any of the following health risks. Be aware and stay healthy.

Electric Shock

Downed power lines submerged in flood waters can create an electrical current. If you come into contact with this water, you'll be exposed to an electric shock that can cause severe injury. Flooded buildings with electrical equipment or outlets below the water line can also put you at risk.

If you see any fallen power lines, report them to the electric company immediately, and always steer clear. Before entering any flood damaged building, make sure the main power is shut off to ensure you don't get shocked.

Infectious Diseases from Open Wounds

If you're treading in flood water and have any open cuts or sores, you could be exposed to harmful viruses, infections and diseases from contaminated water.

Be sure to properly treat any open wounds and wear the right protective gear if you need to wade through flood waters.

Injury from Sharp Objects

Harmful objects can be hidden from view, especially in deep or murky flood waters. Sharp items like nails, broken glass, bits of metal and other unsafe materials can lead to severe injury and infections.

If you can, avoid walking through flood waters. Otherwise, be sure to wear protective shoes and pants before moving through the water.

Injury from Unstable Structures

Like many natural disasters, flood water can cause structural damage to buildings. It is unsafe to enter homes or businesses without the proper clearance.

If you are stuck inside your home, leave right away if you hear shifting noises or other unfamiliar sounds. These noises could mean that parts of your home are preparing to collapse.

Chemical Poisoning

Flood waters are likely to be contaminated by oil, gas leaks, pesticides and other toxic materials. If you come into contact with these waters, you may experience signs of chemical poisoning, including:

  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle twitches

As always, avoid moving through flood waters whenever possible, especially in areas that are known to contain toxic chemicals.

Bacterial Infection from Fecal Matter

Fecal bacteria from humans and animals seeps into flood waters. If you ingest or come into contact with this kind of organic waste, you can experience:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Do not walk through flood waters if you can avoid it. Call for help. Professionals wearing the right gear can come get you, if necessary.

Danger of Displaced Wildlife

Animals are under high stress during natural disasters. Along with house pets like dogs, cats and horses, flood waters can displace wildlife that may attack you due to the strange and stressful conditions.

Be cautious around areas that have high amounts of wildlife, such as alligators, snakes and even floating fire ants.

Getting Life Back to Normal after a Flood Event

The full impact of a flood isn't over until your community has been restored. Find out what you can do after a hurricane to ensure you stay completely safe during this trying time. When it's time to get your community back to normal, count on the experts at ServiceMaster Restore for flood cleanup and repair and the expert guidance you need to make it from crisis through to resolution.

With the proper tools, over 65 years of expertise in the restoration industry, and real experience helping countless communities rebuild after a flood, we have what it takes to help. Contact one of our locations today to find out how our qualified commercial and residential services can help you in the aftermath of a flood.