Playing in flood waters presents danger

August 29, 2011 3:02:00 PM PDT
The health dangers posed by Irene are still not over.

We are dealing now with the immediacy of power outages and fallen trees and destroyed property, but there are some other hazards out there we all have to be aware of, and it has to do with all the water that we are still dealing with.

It may seem like playtime to a child, making the best of a flood of water, but the reality is, it's a health hazard. Besides a risk of drowning, there can be hazards under the water as well as in it.

Do not allow your children to play in the standing flood water, under any circumstances.

It may be contaminated with a wide array of dangerous substances from oil and fuel to chemicals that come from cars and machinery, and even toxic household items that were stored in flooded basements and garages.

There can also be contamination from sewage systems.

This can cause serious health problems if the water ingested or even if it just comes into contact with an open area of the skin.

So, if you have to go into the water out of necessity, take precautions.

Wear protective boots and gloves, and when you get inside wash immediately with soap and water, even if you have been wearing gloves.

And besides protecting yourself, protect your belongings. Any furniture or food touched by flood water is contaminated.

"Flood waters may contain sewage so it's really important to disinfect contaminated items and keep them from coming into contact with the surge while you clean," said Mayor Bloomberg.

The flooding was worse in certain areas and water systems are still being evaluated for safety.

So if you are in doubt, boil your drinking water and stay in touch with your local or county health officials for advisories.