Don't play in the water: flood water poses health, safety risks

Published: May. 2, 2017 at 5:38 PM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2017 at 9:34 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(KFVS) - Even though it may be tempting, you should not play in flood water because it is dangerous and can present serious health risks.

For one, soaked creek and stream banks may be unstable and give way without warning.

Storm drains and culverts can create powerful currents that can sweep people into rushing water which poses a risk to both the person in the water and those trying to rescue them.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, flood water may also contain raw sewage and put people at risk for exposure to hazardous chemicals and infectious diseases.

The water may also contain debris like sticks, glass, or metal objects.

Direct contact with flood water may cause skin rashes, infect cuts or wounds, or cause stomach illnesses, according to the department.

OSHA is also urging workers and the public to be aware of the hazards they may encounter and what steps are needed to protect themselves as they begin clean-up activities.

"Our main concern is the safety and health of workers and volunteers who may be exposed to various hazards such as electrocution, drowning, chemical exposures, struck-by, caught-in and other hazards during clean-up," Kimberly Stille, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, said. "With more rain in the forecast for the Ozarks and mid-Mississippi Valley in the week to come, residents and workers may be exposed again to flash flood hazards as rivers are already swollen."

Protective measures include:

  • Evaluating the work area for all hazards
  • Providing training for the task
  • Task-specific hazard exposure monitoring
  • Utilizing engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards
  • Using personal protective equipment
  • Assuming all power lines are live
  • Following proper hygiene procedures
  • Correctly using portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles and other equipment
  • Utilizing traffic work zones
  • Implementing safe work procedures

Hazards of helping in clean-up efforts include:

  • Illness from exposure to contaminated water or food
  • Risk of excessive exposure or heat stress
  • Electrocution dangers related to downed electrical wires
  • Carbon monoxide and electrical hazards associated with the use of portable generators
  • Fall and struck-by hazards involved in tree-trimming or working at heights
  • Being caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces
  • Burns, lacerations and musculoskeletal injuries
  • Being struck by traffic or heavy equipment while working
  • Risk of drowning in surges of moving water during clean-up

If you are helping with flood cleanup, you should have had a booster dose of tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine within the last 10 years.

If you've been exposed to flood water, you should remove any wet clothing as quickly as possible. Be sure to wash your hands and any skin exposed to flood waters with soap and water.

OSHA's website contains information on keeping disaster site workers safe during clean-up and recovery operations.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved.