Staying Healthy in a Flood: 8 Tips From Experts

Staying Healthy in a Flood: 8 Tips From Experts

Avoiding contaminants and staying out of vehicles are 2 keys to surviving.

Hurricane Florence has hit the Eastern U.S, bringing unprecedented flooding and wreckage in its wake. At least 42 people have died, a number that could go up in the coming days, in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

When faced with a potential flood, luck has a lot to do with the dangers you face, but there are some basics you can follow to stay as safe as possible.

Of course, it’s always best to obey evacuation orders. Beyond that, here are 8 tips for making sure you’re in good shape when the water comes:

1) Don’t Walk Through Moving Water

According to experts (and those who’ve been through a flood), 6 inches of moving water is enough to make you fall over. For this reason, steer clear of moving areas, and use a stick to check how firm the ground is underfoot, before stepping forward.

2) Wear Protective Gear

Remember, during a flood the water can become contaminated with all sorts of things. The water you’re walking in could contain oil, gas or raw sewage and bringing it into contact with your skin is a sure fire way to get an infection. Wear boots, hip waders and other protective wet-weather gear.

3) Turn Off the Electricity

Even if the power has been shut off in your community, if you can turn the electricity off in your home, do so. By doing this, you can decide on your own when it’s safe enough to have it back on.

4) Avoid Driving Into Flooded Areas

Sadly, a large amount of deaths in floods happen in cars. Once the waters rise, you may not be able to get out of your car. It can be difficult to lower windows and swim out, and impossible to open doors. Never drive through flood waters in a vehicle.

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5) Avoid Streams, Rivers and Creeks

This seems like a no-brainer, and is sometimes impossible to do when flood water rise. But remind your kids before it rains to avoid walking by rivers and creeks, as they might forget these can rise suddenly, in a flash flood, trapping them.

6) Stay Out of Buildings Surrounded by Floodwater

Buildings that are flooded can be harboring all sorts of unseen dangers. Don’t enter until the water subsides.

7) Don’t Drink Your Water Before You’re Told You Can

Listen to news reports in your community to learn when it’s safe to do so. Treating the community’s water supply might not be possible when flood waters rise and you could risk getting sick if you consume it.

8) Disinfect, Disinfect, Disinfect

Once the water has gone down and you’re left with the damage, remember to disinfect everything that’s been affected. (See #2).

8) Stay Informed

For a comprehensive list of resources that can help you, get a copy of the book Repairing Your Flooded Home (737KB PDF) which is available free from the American Red Cross or your state or local emergency manager.


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