SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Good Things Utah) – Snow melt has already led to flooding issues in throughout Utah, and it’s likely to continue for some time. Along with the obvious dangers associated with floodwaters, there are health concerns to keep in mind, as well, according to Optum Utah which wants you to know the risks and dangers so you can stay healthy and safe.

What are some of the dangers associated with floodwaters? (according to the CDC)

  • There’s always the risk of damage to infrastructure, like downed power lines and damaged roadways, which can cause injury
  • Broken down physical objects like lumber, vehicle parts and other debris can get into and be obscured by the water
  • Floodwaters can also contain harmful human and animal waste
  • Household chemicals and medical and industrial waste can get into floodwaters, too
  • Floodwaters also can displace wild animals, like rodents and snakes

What are the specific health concerns I should be aware of?

  • Be mindful of open wounds and skin rashes
  • Open wounds and rashes exposed to floodwater can become infected from various naturally occurring bacteria
  • Gastrointestinal illness and diarrheal diseases are always a concern, too
  • As mentioned, floodwaters can often contain waste products, including sewage, which, if ingested accidentally can cause E. coli or Salmonella infection, or other unpleasant illnesses and conditions
  • Be aware of tetanus, too. If you’re exposed to floodwater, and it’s been longer than 10 years since your last tetanus shot, you should get another

What are other ways I can stay safe and prevent illness?

  • First and foremost, due to the illness and injury risks, avoid floodwaters unless it’s absolutely impossible
  • But if it’s unavoidable, wear rubber boots and gloves, and googles to protect your eyes
  • If you have an open wound, avoid exposure to floodwaters at all costs
  • If you’re near floodwaters and there’s a chance of exposure, thoroughly clean any open wounds, and cover them with waterproof bandages
  • Be extra cautious if your wound was originally caused by an animal bite, or a puncture by a dirty objects, because these can have extra risk of infection
  • Pay attention, and if you notice redness, swelling, or discharge from the wound, seek medical attention immediately – You may have an infection
  • If a foreign object—anything from dirt to broken pieces of metal or objects—gets into a wound, or if you’re experiencing pain, swelling or redness in an old wound, or develop a fever, seek medical attention immediately
  • If contact with floodwater is unavoidable, wash thoroughly as soon as possible, and clean any clothing that came into contact with the water.

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Sponsored by Optum Utah.