Dangers of Standing Flood Water

Floods are a force of nature that bring many dangers, but after the initial flood, one danger that is often over looked is all of that standing water. Standing water poses many risks to our health and should be avoided. I cringe thinking of people letting kids play in it of all things.

dangers of standing flood water

Why Is Standing Water Dangerous?

Infectious Disease and Diarrhea to start.

Eating or drinking standing flood water can cause diarrhea. Flood water that collects after a large storm can cause many infectious diseases like E-Coli, TB, Encephalitis and West Nile Virus. To prevent this, first, keep your children and pets out of the water! But if they come in contact with it, practice good hygiene by washing hands or taking a shower and disinfecting objects that may have come in contact with it with a bleach solution: 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of clean water. It’s very important to see a doctor if someone in your family becomes sick after exposure to standing flood water. Water borne illnesses can spread quickly in a family.

If you have a dog, it would be a good idea to make sure they are current on their immunizations and they have had a leptospirosis vaccine and booster. Dogs love rainwater puddles.

It’s also very important to limit your exposure to bugs (especially mosquitoes) that may be drawn to the standing water:

  • avoid going out during times when they are most active: dawn, dusk and early nighttime hours.
  • wear long sleeves and long pants when practical
  • cover infant stroller with mosquito netting
  • use a commercial mosquito repellent

The most effective solution though may be to treat the area with products you can buy that interrupt the larvae cycle: mosquito dunks and quick kill granules. The granules would work faster on standing flood water.

If you most work around standing flood water during the clean up process make sure to cover any open scrapes or wounds you may have with waterproof bandaging. Seek immediate medical attention if a wound exposed to standing water shows any signs of infection like redness, warmth or swelling. If your home has been flooded you will need to follow many more precautions. Please refer to the CDC’s Guide to Flood Water Cleanup After an Emergency for more ideas.

A crude oil storage tank lies on its side in floodwater after the recent floods in Colorado. John Wark/Associated Press

A crude oil storage tank lies on its side in floodwater after the recent floods in Colorado. John Wark/Associated Press

Other Dangers of Standing Water From Floods

    • Chemical hazards. Chemicals spill or leak into flood waters frequently.
    • Electrical hazards. Downed power lines can be hiding under all that water.
    • Drowning. It is difficult to tell how deep standing flood waters really are.
    • Displaced wildlife. Think snakes and other creepy crawlies.
    • Wounds. You don’t know what may be floating in the water. Pieces of glass and metal are likely.
    • Sewage. 


Standing flood water should never be a source of potable water. In an extreme emergency you could likely filter it and disinfect it for drinking using various methods if you were reasonably sure there were no electrical or chemical issues but the focus of today’s post is to keep you safe when you have standing flood water near your homes now.

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