Why Standing Flood Water is Dangerous for Your Home and Family

standing flood waterThe primary causes of flooding severe enough to inundate a home are bad enough: violent weather such as hurricanes, overflowing rivers, dam ruptures, etc.  However, a secondary effect presents a double-whammy of danger: Standing water inside a house after flooding is hazardous in a number of ways.

The temptation to take control of the situation ASAP by entering a home that’s still flooded is understandable. Because the risks are formidable, however, it’s usually a job that should be left to a qualified professional. Here are some of the dangers that lurk beneath the surface of standing flood water in a house:

  • Sharp objects underwater such as shards of broken glass common in the wake of a severe storm pose a hidden hazard to persons wading about in a flooded interior. Submerged splintered wood can also cause cuts, as well as nails exposed by structural damage.
  • Electrocution is a major threat. Standing water may be electrically charged if the power is still on inside the house or even from a nearby downed power line.  The only way to ensure that a flooded house is safe is to have an electrician remove the meter, disconnecting all power to the home. Never attempt to access the main electrical panel if it is located in a flooded or wet part of the house.
  • Chemicals and other toxins picked up as a flood moves across the landscape are included in the indoor floodwater. After one recent hurricane, an analysis detected high levels of lead, arsenic and solvents—all of which are carcinogenic—in measurable concentrations, as well as assorted pesticides.
  • Since floods typically flush out municipal sewage systems, E. coli bacteria, staphylococcus and even flesh-eating bacteria may also be present in the house. The Red Cross recommends that persons coming into contact with flood water consider getting tetanus booster shots.
  • Various displaced insects, animals and snakes may take refuge inside a flooded home. Mosquitoes also utilize stagnant water inside a house to lay eggs. Statistics after a recent hurricane showed an increase in mosquito-borne illnesses such as such as Zika, dengue and West Nile virus.

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