As spring approaches, so does the potential for spring flooding – a natural occurrence tied to factors like rainfall, snowpack, soil moisture, and temperature. With floods come safety hazards, such as those outlined in a safety bulletin called Biohazards, from WorkSafeBC.
“During a flood, chemicals that can harm your health might be released from businesses, homes, and other sources into the water,” reads the bulletin. “You can come into contact with these chemicals by getting them on your skin or by breathing them from the air.”
As I read the bulletin, I wondered how much people know about flood waters – aside from the professionals who deal with them.
Do people protect themselves adequately? It’s hard to know, since so many affect people’s homes. So here are some key tips to keep in mind.
Do you see an oily sheen or discolouration?
If so, stay away. Contact local authorities.
“You should remove and dispose of your clothing and wash with hot water and soap if you are exposed to any unidentified chemicals,” reads the warning.
“Floodwaters may contain disease-causing organisms, such as coliform bacteria (e.g., E. coli), hepatitis viruses, fungi, and the bacteria that cause diarrhea.”
More advice comes for those who touch the waters.
* If contact with the skin occurs, wash the area with hot water and soap and, in the case of cuts, also use a disinfectant.
* Avoid wiping your hands on your mouth, nose or eyes, as these areas are primary receptors for pathogens.
* Do not eat or drink from any containers that might have come into contact with floodwaters.
* Use disposable gloves while touching anything that has come in contact with floodwater.
Read more about Clean-up after a flood from HealthLinkBC.