AR flood water poses potential health risks - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

AR flood water poses potential health risks

 By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)  - "The dangers of the floodwaters go beyond the damage to their homes and vehicles, et cetera," said Assistant Professor of Medicine, Doctor Shane Speights.  

These relentless flood waters surrounding so many cities can be harboring gas, oil, and dangerous chemicals 

"It's not safe to be used in any context," said Dr. Speights.

The contaminated waters could cause health concerns if ingested or with just exposure.

"You don't want to be walking in or swimming through it.   This is not like lake water or pond water," said Speights.

Just because you might not have chemicals around your home that could have mixed with water, the danger lies in where the water came from and what could have been mixed in during it's path.  

"You can get what's called cellulitis which is an irritation or inflammation of the skin. If you have any open wounds on your arms or legs, those can be infected by that," said Speights.

That's why Dr. Shane Speights says if you are exposed to floodwaters, wash the exposed areas immediately.  For those who can't avoid the flood waters, whether you're cleaning up or an emergency worker, Speights says be mindful of the potential hazards.  

"If you have to work in this environment for any amount of time be sure that you kind of decontaminate yourself afterwards," said Dr. Speights.

If you are in flood waters, Speights says wear water proof type protective gear like knee or hip boots and gloves.  Remember,  this water should not be used for any cleaning or cooking purposes.  

If it all possible, just stay away from it, and stay out of those waters," said Dr. Speights.

Speights says if you get floodwater in your eyes, rinse them vigorously with fresh water.  There's also the danger of what's lurking below, what you can't see.  Debris, for example, that you could step or fall on that could cause injuries.        

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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