Doctor warns about health hazards during flood cleanup

Doctor warns about health hazards during flood cleanup
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - As the cleanup continues in Region 8 after major flooding, volunteers are pouring into areas like Randolph County to help with the recovery.

Volunteers and property owners are now going inside homes that have been filled with water, which can pose some health hazards.

"Obviously when flood waters rise they get into areas that otherwise are not under water," Dr. Shane Speights with the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at A-State said. "Now they're contaminated with decaying animals, sewage, agricultural chemical runoff, things that we otherwise wouldn't think of."

The bacteria is then left behind in houses when the water goes back down.

Speights said people going into the houses need to take proper precautions.

That includes wearing boots, pants, rubber gloves, goggles, and a respirator mask for places that have mold growing.

"In addition, in terms of a preventative, make sure you've had a tetanus shot," Speights said. "That's something that's recommended obviously every 10 years but we would want to get that on board if you haven't. If you can't remember the last time that you've had it, it means that it's a good time to go ahead and get one."

Speights said you also have to watch out for items that have been moved around in the flood and are out of place.

"All of a sudden you have pieces of fences and pieces of maybe barbed wire, other debris that were otherwise not in that, now you're moving into an area that's cluttered with all kinds of garbage and debris," he said. "You increase your risk of a cut or a laceration or an opening of a wound that you may have already had."

And if you get sick after being exposed to the floodwater or mold, see a doctor.

"Because it may feel like a common cold but it may be more than that based on your exposure," Speights said. "Don't minimize the fact that you were exposed to flood waters."

Children and people with respiratory illnesses are at a greater chance of getting sick if exposed to mold or bacteria in the water.

Speights said a good defense is decontaminating with soap and hot water as soon as you can after working in the buildings.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Watch Region 8 News On Demand: On your Desktop | On your Mobile device

Region 8 News App - Install or update on your: iPhone | Android