The storm has disappeared, and the floodwaters have subsided. That’s the end of your worries, right?
Floods can contaminate the surfaces they touch and have the potential for causing serious illnesses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "floodwaters contain many things that may harm health," such as:
- Biological waste from livestock and humans (e.g., feces from sewers and septic tanks)
- Hazardous waste from households and medical and industrial facilities
- Wild or stray animals (dead or alive)
- Downed power lines, lumber or other types of debris
So while the water might have disappeared, the items they carried are left behind.
The harm from biological comes from the infectious microorganisms they carry, which can enter the body and cause illnesses. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of those microorganisms include:
- E. coli
- Hepatitis A virus
- Bacterial agents that cause typhoid, paratyphoid and tetanus
- Any microorganisms living in medical waste
Harm caused by industrial chemical waste varies, depending on the types of chemicals involved. Called chemical poisoning, contact with chemically contaminated floodwater may lead to:
Floodwaters can also bring about wild or stray animals, which can be carriers of diseases or poison. Some examples include:
- Raccoons, "primary carrier[s] of rabies in the United States", according to the Humane Society
- Rodents, carriers of bacteria that cause Rat Bite Fever, a potentially fatal infectious disease
- Snakes, some of which may be venomous
- Fire ants, whose bites can cause severe reactions that require immediate medical attention
- Ticks, carriers of Lyme Disease
- Mosquitoes, whose bites can cause itchy rashes or transmit deadly viruses (outside of the Lower 48) [insert link to my article about floodwater and mosquitoes]
Apart from wildlife, chemical and biological hazards, floods can also leave behind electrical hazards. Contact with water near electrical equipment, along with downed power lines, may lead to electrocution.
These are just a few examples of how floods can create hazardous conditions long after the waters have subsided. Because of this, experts recommend that home and business owners consider hiring a team of biohazard professionals to clean and sanitize their homes and businesses, making them safe and secure for your family, employees and customers.