Flooding is one of the deadliest natural disasters because it can happen with so little warning and cover such a large area. Drowning is an obvious danger, but it’s far from the only consequence of flooding.
Here’s a look at some of the other risks posed by flooding:
Flooding can have a severe impact on your health, but it goes beyond just the physical. Don’t misunderstand: the physical damage can be significant, but mental health can also suffer during and after a flood.
Floodwater is filthy stuff, so stay out of it as much as you possibly can. It can carry biohazardous materials such as chemicals, dead animals, and sewage, and can be hiding sharp objects. Open wounds can become infected if they come in contact with this black water, and if chemicals are present, rashes may develop. If you eat food or drink water that has been contaminated, you may suffer from diarrhea and vomiting.
Temporary evacuation shelters can be a huge blessing if you are displaced from your home during a flood, but they can also turn into a breeding ground for disease. If you need to live in a shelter until your home is safe to enter, make sure that you are washing your hands with soap frequently and keeping any open wounds clean and covered.
Many people think that their vehicles can keep them safe from floodwaters, but this false assumption can be very dangerous and even fatal. As few as 6 inches of water can stall out most cars, 12 inches can float smaller vehicles, and 24 inches can carry almost all vehicles away. Your best chance of survival is to steer clear of the water completely and call emergency services if you get stranded in your car.
Since water is such an excellent conductor, there is a heightened risk of electrocution because downed power lines may be submerged and still live. If you need to evacuate your home, turn off your utilities before you leave only if you can do so safely.
Another oft-ignored threat from flooding is carbon monoxide poisoning. People who are recovering from a flood tend to use gasoline-powered generators and propane tanks to do their day-to-day tasks, but this can become dangerous in areas with poor ventilation. Keep battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors handy, and only operate that machinery and equipment in a well-ventilated space.
Floods are traumatic for everybody, not just those with previous mental illnesses. People who already deal with mental health issues such as depression, stress, and anxiety may find their symptoms amplified during an emergency situation. In the event of an emergency, it’s important to remember to take any prescription medications with you should you need to evacuate.
Just because you have never experienced depression or anxiety before doesn’t mean that you are immune. Flooding and other natural disasters tend to bring out some of these struggles—even in people who have no history of any type of mental illness. The loss of sentimental possessions can be completely overwhelming and lead to chemical reactions in the brain. You might find that you have trouble sleeping and difficulty remembering things. You might cry more readily, snap at loved ones, or experience feelings of intense sadness. These are all normal, natural responses, and as you work through this trial, you will find ways to cope with these feelings.
If you find that you are suffering from mental health problems, and you can’t seem to get them under control, do not hesitate to call a professional counselor to help you navigate your way through this struggle. No one has to be alone in such a trying time.
Studies show that people with strong support systems and family fare best in the event of a flooding disaster, so be sure that you and your family have an emergency plan in place. Know where to meet and how to get ahold of one another should telephone lines or other methods of communication become unavailable. Communicate regularly, and talk through some of the feelings that you are having.
Natural disasters can be dangerous to animals, and they can also make animals become more dangerous to you.
Domestic animals tend to become uncharacteristically aggressive or depressed following a natural disaster because they don’t understand what has happened. They can also become sick from walking in or drinking contaminated water, and they may get hurt from stepping on debris. Be sensitive to your animal’s needs as you slowly reintroduce them to a previously flooded area. You should also safeguard your own well-being by watching for any signs that your animals are becoming hostile or aggressive.
As for wild animals, they are susceptible to behavior changes after a natural disaster, too and may become threatening. It is also possible for displaced insects, rodents, and large wildlife to encroach on private property and become nuisances. And finally, mosquitoes may come out in droves due to large amounts of standing water. These mosquitoes can carry diseases such as West Nile and Zika.
During and after times of intense flooding, mold and dangerous bacteria growth can pose a significant health risk. Furniture is often destroyed or contaminated beyond use, and most experts recommend destroying a majority of textiles such as mattresses and bedding. Failure to dispose of household possessions, sheetrock, insulation, furniture, and textiles can lead to an infestation of mold that can cause rashes and respiratory inflammation.
If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, make sure to have an emergency plan in place to help minimize these dangers. Pack 72-hour kits and enough water for each member of your family, and always heed the warnings and instructions of your local government. Doing so can keep you and your family safe from the dangers lurking below the floodwater.
Flood brings disaster to everybody. However, what kind of disasters that it really brings? There are four blood dangers that you must be aware of. This can amplify existing conditions or bring a new problem to the family. This infographic will give you ideas on what aspect of a person will be affected by a flood. Most importantly, you will be proactive in fighting it.