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Prepare in a Year - Floodwater Safety

Don’t drive in flooded areas — turn around, don’t drown!


Floodwater can pose a drowning risk for everyone— regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. When entering water over the roadway, vehicles may stall or be swept away.


Many of the deaths occur in cars swept downstream. Many of these drownings are preventable. Never drive around the barriers blocking a flooded road. The road may have collapsed under that water.  It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away most cars and just 2 feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and trucks. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.


When floodwaters have receded, watch out for weakened road surfaces.

Floodwater contains many things that may harm health. We don’t know exactly what is in floodwater at any given point in time. Floodwater can contain:


  • Downed power lines

  • Human and livestock waste

  • Hazardous waste (chemical, biological, and radiological)

  • Other germs and contaminants that can lead to illness

  • Physical objects such as lumber, vehicles, and debris

  • Wild or stray animals such as rodents and snakes


Exposure to contaminated floodwater can cause:


  • Wound infections

  • Skin rash

  • Gastrointestinal illness

  • Tetanus

  • It is important to protect yourself from exposure to floodwater regardless of the source of contamination. The best way to protect yourself is to stay out of the water.


If you come in contact with floodwater:


  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you don’t have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.

  • Take care of wounds and seek medical attention if necessary.

  • Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent before reusing them.

  • If you must enter floodwater, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles.


Prevent injuries.

Floodwater may contain sharp objects, such as glass or metal fragments, that can cause injury and lead to infection. Prompt first aid can help heal small wounds and prevent infection.


If you receive a puncture wound or a wound contaminated with feces, soil, or saliva, have a health care professional determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary based on individual records.

Prevent infection of open wounds and rashes.

Open wounds and rashes exposed to floodwater can become infected. To protect yourself and your family:


  • Avoid exposure to floodwater if you have an open wound.

  • Cover clean, open wounds with a waterproof bandage to reduce chance of infection.

  • Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water.

  • If a wound develops redness, swelling, or oozing, seek immediate medical attention.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible if:


There is a foreign object (soil, wood, metal, or other objects) embedded in the wound;

The wound is at special risk of infection (such as a dog bite or a puncture by a dirty object);

An old wound shows signs of becoming infected (increased pain and soreness, swelling, redness, draining, or you develop a fever).

Be aware that floodwater may contain sewage, and eating or drinking anything contaminated by floodwater can cause diarrheal disease. To protect yourself and your family:


Wash your hands after contact with floodwater. Also be sure to wash children’s hands with soap and water often and always before meals.

  • Do not allow children to play in floodwater areas.

  • Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by floodwater and have not been disinfected.

  • Do not bathe in water that may be contaminated with sewage or toxic chemicals. This includes rivers, streams, or lakes that are contaminated by floodwater.

  • Protect yourself from animal and insect bites.

  • Floodwater can displace animals, insects, and reptiles. To protect yourself and your family, be alert and avoid contact.


Avoid electrical hazards inside or outside your home

After a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster you need to be careful to avoid electrical hazards both in your home and elsewhere.

Be extremely careful when removing car batteries. Even if they are in floodwater, car batteries may still have an electrical charge. Use insulated gloves and avoid coming in contact with any acid that may have spilled from the damaged car battery.


Shut off electrical power and natural gas or propane tanks in your home to avoid fire, electrocution, or explosions.


NEVER touch a fallen power line. Call Tanner Electric Coop to report fallen power lines. Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup and other activities.

Do not drive through standing water if downed power lines are in the water.

If you believe someone has been electrocuted, call or have someone else call 911 or emergency medical help.



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