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Primary Care

The Medical Dangers of Floodwater

Sep. 18 2018

The eastern parts of South Carolina and our neighbors in North Carolina continue to face severe threats from floodwater this week in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

First responders guiding an emergency boat through flood waters.

“Whenever you have floodwater, you need to be concerned about contamination,” said Todd Crump, MD, of Lexington Medical Center’s Emergency department. “It’s never safe to wade through floodwater unless it’s an emergency situation.”

Floodwater can contain raw sewage, animal waste, bacteria, parasites, gasoline and viruses.

Dr. Crump helped with response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005. There, he treated many patients with problems brought about by walking in floodwater.

“You can’t see what you’re walking through,” he said. “It can be easy to cut your foot or leg.”

Those problems included seriously infected wounds in people who had waded in floodwater, as well as pelvic infections in women.

For first responders and other people who have no choice but to be in floodwater, they should shower afterward with antibacterial soap and treat any wounds with an appropriate first-aid kit and bandages. Hand sanitizer can help to clean a wound if no other solutions are available.

Otherwise, steer clear of floodwater.

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.