When a storm hits, it can cause flooding that affects homes, businesses, and infrastructure.
While the immediate damage from the flood water may be obvious, there are also hidden dangers that can linger long after the water recedes. Standing flood waters can pose serious health and safety risks for people, animals, and the environment.
Here are some of the dangers of standing flood waters and water damage and how to protect yourself and your property from them.
Injuries and Drowning
The most obvious danger of flood waters is the potential risk of injury and death by drowning.
Flood water can be deeper and faster than it appears, and it can hide debris, sharp objects, electrical wires, and animals that can harm you. Each year, flooding causes more deaths than any other hazard related to thunderstorms. The most common flood deaths occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood waters.
To avoid these dangers, and keep yourself and your employees safe, you should:
- Follow the warnings and instructions from local authorities. Do not enter flooded areas unless you are told it is safe to do so. Do not make employees come in to work if the roadways around your facility are flooded.
- Do not drive through flooded roads or bridges. It only takes six inches of water to cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Watch out for fallen power lines, damaged buildings, and other hazards in flooded areas. Report any problems to the authorities and stay away from them. If your facility is in the flood waters or has been damaged, warn employees to not come in.
It is better to stay safe than sorry.
Infectious diseases and chemical hazards
A very dangerous, though less obvious hazard from standing flood waters is sewage contamination, animal waste, chemicals, pesticides, and other pollutants in the water.
These contaminants can cause infections, illnesses, and skin irritations if they come in contact with your eyes, mouth, nose, or wounds.
Some of the diseases that can be spread by flood water include hepatitis, tetanus, leptospirosis, and gastrointestinal infections.
To prevent exposure to these hazards, you should:
- Avoid contact with flood water as much as possible. If you must enter the water, wear waterproof boots, gloves, and protective clothing (but only after verifying that there is no chance of electrocution).
- Wash your hands with soap and clean water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently, especially before eating or drinking.
- Do not drink, cook, or wash dishes with flood water or tap water that may be contaminated.
- Clean and disinfect any items that have been in contact with flood water, such as furniture and appliances. Use a bleach solution or a commercial disinfectant according to the manufacturer’s instructions to disinfect upholstery and carpets.
- Discard any food, beverages, or medicines that have been in contact with flood water or that have been spoiled by lack of refrigeration.
Mold Growth and Structural Damage
Finally, standing flood waters can also damage the structure and integrity of your building.
Moisture can seep into the walls, floors, ceilings, and insulation, creating ideal conditions for mold growth. Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and other respiratory problems for some people, and long-term exposure can cause the development of other illnesses.
Mold can also damage the materials and furnishings in your facility, making them unsafe or unusable.
To prevent or reduce mold growth and structural damage, you should:
- Remove any standing water from your building as soon as possible. Use pumps, wet vacuums, buckets, or mops to get rid of the water.
- Dry out the affected areas as quickly as possible. Use fans, dehumidifiers, heaters, or air conditioners to speed up the drying process.
- It is vital you remove and discard any drywall, insulation, carpet, padding, or other porous materials that have been wet for more than 24 hours or that are visibly moldy.
- Clean and disinfect any hard surfaces that have been in contact with flood water, such as wood, metal, concrete, or plastic. Use a bleach solution or a commercial disinfectant according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
While some of the above steps are ones that you can take, due to the often invisible yet very hazardous nature of water damage, mold, and structural damage, you ought to hire a professional water restoration contractor or mold remediation specialist to inspect and repair any structural damage or mold infestation.
A professional will know all the places to look and all the signs to look for. If mold or structural damage is not caught early, it can spread and lead to worse damage and health impacts. Waiting to call in the professionals is a risk that most cannot afford.
Standing flood waters from a storm can pose many dangers for you, your employees, and your property. By following these tips, you can protect yourself, your team, and your facility from the harmful effects of flood water and minimize the risk of flood damage.
If you need professional help with water damage restoration, contact AHI Facility Services, Inc. today. We have the experience, equipment, and expertise to handle any water damage situation, from minor leaks to major floods. We can help with water extraction, the drying process, water mitigation, cleaning and decontamination, and even reconstruction.
We will restore your property to its pre-loss condition and ensure your safety and satisfaction.
Call us today for a free estimate and consultation.