Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Here’s a quick guide to flood water safety

Muddy Creek Road, pictured here, and much of the Creeds area in Virginia Beach have been flooded by recent rain (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach Fire Department)
Muddy Creek Road (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach Fire Department)

As Hurricane Florence closes in, major tidal flooding is a threat to the coastal regions of Hampton Roads.

Here are a few things you should know from the Virginia Department of Health about being safe when the waters start to rise:

Moving floodwater

Moving water is the greatest threat during flooding and the deeper the moving water, the greater the threat.

People should avoid driving in moving water and no one should attempt to walk or drive through moving water because you don’t know how deep it is or quickly the water is moving.

Pooling floodwater

When floodwaters rise and pool on streets, you need to be aware of the following:

  • Road surfaces are covered and it’ll be hard to see where exactly you are driving.
  • Electricity from streetlights and power poles may be active through standing water, this can shock anyone coming in contact with it.
  • Children playing in contaminated standing water can become sick or be bitten by snakes or floating insects.
  • People coming in contact with floodwaters should thoroughly rinse any exposed body parts with soap and sanitized or disinfected water.

Contaminated water supply

Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. You cannot assume that the water in the hurricane-affected area is safe to drink. Listen to local announcements on the safety of the water supply.

If your public water system lost pressure, a boil water notice will likely be issued for your area.

People in these areas should take precautions to avoid contaminated water, especially individuals with private wells. If your well is in a flooded area, your water may contain disease-causing organisms and may not be safe to drink.

To make water safe the VDH recommends the following:

  • Boil water for 1 minute.
  • Disinfect water by adding eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Use bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.

Contaminated food and items

Do not eat any food that has come into contact with flood waters, discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers if contaminated. Wash and disinfect metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils.


Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected and cooled.

And always remember: “Turn around, don’t drown.”

For a full list of procedures and tips, visit VDH’s Flood Water Safety guide.

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