Dangers lurking from Harvey floods
Texas just encountered devastating, or should we say catastrophic, floods that were completely unexpected from all. Yes, we knew it could get bad, but who thought it would be like this? We went from hearing that Harvey could become a Category 1 by land fall, to making it all the way to a category 4. Not to mention the stalling and going back out to waters only to make another landfall. Houston areas hit an all-time high in rain fall with the amount of time it fell in. The record was 48 inches, and some of us had well over 50 inches. Houston gets an average of 79 inches a year, this storm put us at just under 72 inches and we have months to go still.
So, what about after the flood? What are the dangers we witness?
Ever heard the saying “Turn around Don’t Drown”? Well, as crazy as it sounds, it is true. About 75% of fatalities from flooding are from of drownings. Driving down the road as you come up to a puddle of water, you’re probably thinking that it is only about a foot or 2 and my car is heavy. Guess what! That is all it takes to sweep away an SUV, 2 feet of water that is moving fast. We all got stir crazy during all this flooding and just needed to get out of the house, so we take a walk just around the block. It is only a few inches, we could walk through it. Think again, 6 inches of quickly moving water is all it takes to knock down an adult. Not only do we have to watch out for the rapid water, but don’t forget about what that water takes with it. There are metal/ glass pieces and lots of other things that can cut us, as well as the floating fire ants and lurking snakes.
Let’s add to the metal, glass, floating ants, and snakes now. Think about all the sewage that was flushed away, where did it all go? In that water, you thought was safe to venture out in. Think back to Hurricane Katrina, one thing they had different was coffins that arose from the ground and were floating the streets. You can only imagine all the other things that float these waters. The Texas health officials urge people to get tetanus booster shots to keep yourself protected from any diseases that can arise, which enters your body through an open cut/wound.
Power outages are something that develops through storms like Harvey. First thing on everyone’s mind is a backup generator, we must go on. But, have you ever thought of what that does to the air we are breathing? The air is already brimming with mold and everything else, but the generator is adding Carbon Monoxide, adding fuel to the fire for our health. Get a can of Crisco, put a string down the center of it and make a candle. Get a 9v battery, cigarette lighter phone charger, and a key (or other small piece of metal) and make a phone charger. Get a gallon jug of water and put a headband flash light around it, makes for a great lantern.
That pesky flying bug that irritates everyone, they bite and we itch! A little bug spray put on us and we are usually good to go. Problem is they hang around stagnant waters and lay eggs, so of course Harvey attracted them. Mosquitoes are known to carry dangerous diseases like Zika and West Nile, so bug repellent is a necessity after floods. When looking for the right kind of repellent, the Environmental Protection Agency says to look for the kind that contains one of the ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-methane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Some tips they give us are to wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, reapply insect repellent as directed on the bottle, do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing, and if using sunscreen then apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
After a flood, first thing that happens is MOLD! It only takes 24-48 hours after water exposure for mold and mildew to develop. Once it starts to grow, it will continue to grow until the proper steps are taken to eliminate it. When dealing with mold and mildew, always use these materials for precaution: Gloves (latex, rubber), mask (painter’s or respirator), trash bags, wet-dry vacuum, Sponges or rags, broom, mop, scrub brush, non-ammonia detergent or commercial cleaner (phenolic or pine-oil based), and disinfectant chlorine bleach (a 10% solution = 1 ½ cup bleach to a gallon of water.
If any wiring is wet or moldy, turn off your main power and have an electrician come out to check all electrical before turning the power back on. Make sure the windows and doors are open to get more fresh air flowing. Remove all wet items from the home.
Mold and mildew can make you very sick, please be advised of the symptoms from exposure according to FEMA:
-Respiratory problems: wheezing, asthma attacks, etc.
-Nasal and sinus congestions or dry, hacking cough
-Eye irritation: burning, water, redness
-Nose or throat irritation: sneezing fits, bloody noses
-Skin irritations: rashes or hives
-Nervous system: headaches, memory loss, mood changes
-Aches and pains
Floods are overall very dangerous, no matter how much we think they are not. Please think before acting.