Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Flood Waters or Standing Waters

Health Risks

Flood waters and standing waters pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries.

Infectious Diseases

For more detailed information, see CDC’s Infectious Disease After a Disaster page.

Diarrheal Diseases

Eating or drinking anything contaminated by flood water can cause diarrheal disease. To protect yourself and your family,

  • Practice good hygiene (handwashing) after contact with flood waters.
  • Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.
  • Wash children's hands frequently (always before meals).
  • Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.

For information on disinfecting certain nonporous toys, visit CDC's Household Cleaning & Sanitizing page.

Wound Infections

Open wounds and rashes exposed to flood waters can become infected. To protect yourself and your family,

  • Avoid exposure to flood waters if you have an open wound.
  • Cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage.
  • Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water.
  • If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.

For more information, visit

Other Health Effects

Trench foot, also known as immersion foot, occurs when the feet are wet for long periods of time. It can be quite painful, but it can be prevented and treated. For more information, visit CDC’s Trench Foot or Immersion Foot page.

Chemical Hazards

Be aware of potential chemical hazards during floods. Flood waters may have moved hazardous chemical containers of solvents or other industrial chemicals from their normal storage places.

Injuries

Drowning

Flood water poses drowning risks for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.

Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water.

Animal and Insect Bites

Flood waters can displace animals, insects, and reptiles. To protect yourself and your family, be alert and avoid contact.

Electrical Hazards

Avoid downed power lines.

Wounds

Flood waters may contain sharp objects, such as glass or metal fragments, that can cause injury and lead to infection.

Cleanup of Flood Water

When returning to your home after a flooding emergency, be aware that flood water may contain sewage. For more information on how to protect yourself and your family, visit CDC’s Flood Water After a Disaster or Emergency.

More Information

Top