How Dangerous Is Flood Water? Hurricane Harvey Brings Risks That Might Not Be Obvious
The Gulf Coast region of Texas has been devastated by flooding over the last four days, but some Texans have come up with creative solutions to lift their spirits. People are playing in the flooded streets, and while it might seem like a nice break from being cooped up inside, there are serious risks you should watch out for. There are some simple steps you can take to mitigate the dangers of flood waters if you're in the affected areas, and if you follow these safety rules, you still might get to play in the rain.
Flood waters can be dangerous for a multitude of reasons. If the water is moving, even somewhat slowly, it can easily sweep you off your feet. According to the Automobile Association, a European insurance company, just six inches of flood water moving at six miles per hour can be powerful enough to knock you down and keep you from getting back up.
Even if the flood waters are standing still, it's not the best idea to stand around in it, much less go for a swim. From the alligators that Texans have been posting about on social media to sewage matter, there's just no way to tell what you could be exposing yourself to in the water.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent also warns that flood waters can cause electrocution due to downed power lines, wounds from glass or other debris, and diarrheal diseases. Since there are limited first aid resources in flooded areas right now, you don't want to be caught in a potentially deadly situation without any help right now, so it's best to just stay indoors and fight through the cabin fever.
All that being said however, hurricanes can be incredibly boring (I grew up in Houston and lived through a few myself), and it's understandable to want to go out and explore the new underwater world. Lots of southeast Texans own boats, kayaks, inner tubes, and other seafaring vehicles, which are a great option, because they largely keep you out of the water.
If you don't have access to anything like that, you can still go out wading if you feel like you absolutely have to — just be sure to cover up/waterproof yourself as much as possible with boots, rain pants, and the like. When you get home, sanitize everything and give yourself and your equipment a good once over. And whatever you do, avoid digesting the water or getting flood water in an open wound at all costs.
Staying safe is still your number one priority as this deadly storm finally dissipates. Don't have made it this far just to get sick — or worse — from playing in the flood waters.