What health dangers lurk in flooded homes?

Posted at 2:28 PM, Jun 30, 2021

(WXYZ) — As cleanup continues due to flooding caused by heavy rain, homeowners need to beware of potential health dangers.

Floodwater is very different from any other type of water. It can contain many things that can harm your health like:

- Bacteria, parasites, and viruses

- It can also contain oil, gasoline, industrial hazardous waste, even dead animals

You can end up sick if you:

- Eat or drink anything that has been contaminated

- If you accidentally get floodwater in your mouth, eyes, or a cut on your skin

So what are some of the health issues that you could end up with?

- You could get a gastrointestinal illness that’s caused by bacteria or a virus and end up with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

- You can also get tetanus, an infection caused by bacteria that causes painful muscle spasms and can be deadly

- On top of that, standing water can lead to mold. Mold can produce allergens and lead to allergic reactions. In some cases, it can cause toxic substances like mycotoxins, which can lead to acute poisoning, immune deficiency, and cancer

It’s very important to protect yourself when dealing with floodwater. I suggest rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles, and an N95 mask. The reason for the mask is to help protect you from breathing in bacteria, viruses, and mold that have become airborne.

Before starting to clean, be sure to open windows. Your home needs to dry out to prevent mold. Also, be sure to throw out anything that cannot be deeply and thoroughly cleaned, because drying does not remove contaminants or microorganisms.

Toss out any food that floodwater might have touched. Once you’re done, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water.

Lastly, if you have an open cut, wound, or rash, I’d stay far away from floodwater. You don’t want an infection.

If you see any redness, swelling, or oozing, you need to see a doctor right away.

Partha Nandi, MD FACP
CEO & Creator
Ask Dr Nandi, Emmy award winning television show
International Best Selling Author, Ask Dr Nandi: 5 Steps to Becoming Your Own #HealthHero for Longevity, Well-Being, and a Joyful Life