Floods can cause many kinds of damage and natural hazards that can pose serious safety risks, including the following:
- Mold is the most prominent damage following a flood, and worsens over time. Mold is a hazard to both people and property. It grows on almost any material that stays wet more than about two days. The longer mold and wetness remain, the faster it spreads.
- Rising floodwater is usually contaminated with sewage (containing disease-causing bacteria), chemicals and debris. Floods deposit these contaminants, and they may be absorbed into porous materials.
- Floods can shift or damage natural gas lines, which may result in fire if exposed to a flame or spark. Chemicals or salt water (in coastal floods) can cause corrosion to wiring and other metals, and ruin equipment.
- Floods can cause foundations and basement walls to shift, settle or separate. This can cause structural damage to walls and floors. Rushing floodwater can cause wash-out of soil and expose foundation footings.
- Wood swells when wet, so it may warp or split. Most processed wood products, such as oriented strand board (OSB) panels and particle board, lose strength or disintegrate.
- In some areas, floods can result in sinkholes.
Be Safe! Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Full Professional Level PPE (Recommended for high-hazard work)
1. Hard hat
2. Hearing protection earmuffs
3. Safety goggles
4. NIOSH-approved P100 half-face respirator
5. Disposable suit
6. Chemical-resistant gloves
7. Rubber boots with safety toes
8. Disposable shoe covers
Minimal Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
9. Cap or hat with brim
10.Earplugs (if needed)
11.Safety goggles or glasses
12.NIOSH-approved N95 or N100 mask respirator
13.Removable work clothes(long sleeves and pants)
15.Rubber boots (wet work) or safety toe work shoes (rinsable)
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy Home, https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=Rebuild_Healthy_Home.pdf. May 2015.