Thursday, May 02, 2019

Floodwaters are gross: Get the skinny on protecting your skin

By J Lloa, courtesy Pixabay 
Drinking water is great for your skin. But coming into contact with floodwater isn’t. When it comes to disaster-related injuries, skin disease isn’t usually at the top of most people’s mind. But it should be.

 Floodwaters can carry gross sewage, chemicals and other pollutants. If your skin is injured and you touch floodwater, you can get an infection. Infection risks are especially high after hurricanes and tsunamis, as they churn up dirt into floodwater, which can get into cuts and scrapes. Blech!

It’s not just the water itself that’s a danger to your skin during a flood, though. Floodwaters are a popular home for insects like mosquitoes or floating ants. And don’t forget the snakes, dogs and other animals disrupted during floods, as they can be more likely to bite you when stressed. Yikes!

Symptoms of skin infections are redness, tenderness, warmth and discharge. If you get hurt, grab your first-aid kit and follow CDC’s emergency wound care instructions. Seek medical help as soon as you can.

The good news is you can take steps to keep your skin safe beforehand. Never wade into floodwater if you can help it. And especially don’t do it if you have an open wound. Never, ever let kids play in floodwater.

Before a flood happens, make a first-aid kit with supplies to clean, cover and treat minor wounds. Don’t forget insect repellent. Put them in a container that will be safe in a flood and easy to access.

A flood may also mean that you don’t have access to clean water to drink or clean your hands. So always keep your emergency supplies up to date. You need at least one gallon of water per person per day in your stockpile. A three-day supply of non-perishable food is also important.

If you’re cleaning up after a flood, keep your skin safe by wearing rubber gloves, and wash your hands often.

For more flood safety tips, check out our fact sheet.

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