Floodwater Can Pose Hidden Dangers. What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself.

With much of the Houston area experiencing flooding or high water, physicians affiliated with Memorial Hermann offer these warnings about the flood waters:

  1. Avoid getting in the flood water and do not allow children to play in flood water. Flood water can contain a variety of contaminants and debris, including bacteria like E. coli. It is not safe to drink and ingesting the flood water could lead to illness. Only drink from bottled water or uncontaminated public water. Check with your local utilities company if you are concerned about your public water source.
  2. If you must walk in flood water, wear proper footwear. While water logged shoes can be heavy, they also protect your feet from cuts or abrasions from debris in the water.
  3. Thoroughly wash any cuts or nicks. Again, because flood water contains bacteria from a variety of sources, including sewage and agricultural runoff, cuts and nicks can quickly get infected. Make sure to thoroughly wash and use antibiotic ointment on any affected areas.  Should a wound begin to look swollen or should you see red streaks coming from the wound, seek medical attention. If you have not had a tetanus vaccination or a booster tetanus shot within 10 years, you may need to seek medical attention for a tetanus shot.
  4. Watch out for wildlife. Just like humans, animals will begin looking for high ground in times of flooding. Be on the lookout for reptiles in the flood water, as well as floating fire ant mounds.

Remember that standing water also acts as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can lead to a rise in mosquito-borne illness, even after flood waters subside.  People are advised to clear standing water as soon as possible, and remember to apply insect repellant in the days following flooding.

For more information on health and safety concerns following a natural disaster, visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

Should you need medical attention, Memorial Hermann Urgent Care locations are available to walk-in patients. All Urgent Care locations are open from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Online check-in is available to get in line before you arrive.

If you’re feeling sick and not sure what to do, call the free Nurse Health Line: 713.338.7979 or toll-free 855.577.7979.  Registered Nurses will help you decide where to go for care.

For life-threatening emergencies, call 911.

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