After the flood: the potential threat to children
Why children shouldn't play in water after a heavy rain
We’ve seen the dangers of flash floods in the news lately with the rapidly rising water bringing with them quick moving currents that can carry off people, pets and entire structures. And even small amounts of water can be dangerous:
- Standing water can contain the risk of diarrheal disease.
- As little as 6 inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off your feet. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- If floodwaters rise around your car, when water is not moving or not more than a few inches deep, abandon the car and move to higher ground. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly. Call 911 in case of an emergency.
- If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
- If your car is parked in an area that is flooding, don’t go after it.
Children shouldn't play in the water that remains after a heavy rain. Any toys exposed to flood or heavy rain water should be disinfected. Have your child wash their hands frequently. Remind your children to wash their hands with soap and water, while singing "Happy Birthday" twice.
“There are various risks to exposure to flood waters or standing waters,” said Chris Curtis, a registered nurse who works in Cook Children's Urgent Care Center in Fort Worth. “Parents should talk to their children to make sure that kids avoid eating or drinking anything contaminated by flood water and practice good hand hygiene after contact with the water.”
If a family member has open wounds that have been exposed to the flood water, the wounds should be cleaned with soap and water and then covered with waterproof bandage. The exposed wound should be monitored for swelling, redness or infection. If the wound does look infected, seek immediate medical attention.
Curtis also reminds us that chemicals and electrical shock also can cause serious injury or death if a child is playing in the water. The risk of injuries with sharp objects also increase because they have been moved around by the rushing waters.
To learn more about how to protect yourself during a flood, visit the American Red Cross' flood safety page.