Why Is a Flood Disaster So Dangerous

Each year flooding causes severe damage to many homes and businesses across the U.S. Much of the damage last year occurred from hurricanes and related flooding. Even if you aren’t in the direct path of a hurricane, the heavy rain can spread across a big part of the country, increasing the risk of flooding. And with storm seasons ranging from spring through fall, floods can occur throughout the year even when hurricanes aren’t hitting the coast.

Since floods can occur anywhere, preventative steps can help protect your business or home. Flooding can happen with little to no warning, and taking steps now that are designed to prevent or reduce flood damage will help you minimize damages should your home be in the path of rising water.

A flood can be a dangerous experience, whether it’s confined to your basement or a large-scale weather event. Large-scale flooding carries the obvious risk of drowning, but even smaller home floods can result in dangerous electrical hazards and contamination risks.

A flood situation puts you at risk for electrocution if you make physical contact with floodwaters and your home is not fully disconnected from the grid. Never go into a flooded basement until a licensed electrician or emergency worker (such as from the fire department or utility company) has fully disconnected your home from the grid. Even if you’ve lost power during a storm, a neighbor running a generator could be enough to back feed electricity into your home and put you at risk for electrocution.

Flash floods are particularly dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous floodwater. According to the National Weather Service, a mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.

BlackwaterA fence covered with water with the label "wastewater"

Blackwater refers to wastewater contaminated with human waste. The citywide floodwaters we see on television are blackwater. Raw sewage is classified as blackwater. Blackwater is a haven for dangerous bacteria and pathogens that must fully decompose before being released into the environment. It can also be contaminated with dissolved chemicals and particulates, making contact even more dangerous.


Woman filling up water bottle with greywater

Greywater, or sullage, refers to wastewater that is not contaminated with fecal matter. It generally contains fewer pathogens than blackwater and can be reused for non-potable purposes, such as toilet flushing. Greywater still contains small amounts of contaminants and can induce illness if ingested. Greywater cleanup must begin immediately--greywater can become blackwater in as little as 48 hours.

Clean WaterOverflowing sink and countertop

Floodwater that does not pose an immediate health threat is known as clean water. Clean water floods can result from malfunctioning appliances, toilet holding tanks, and melting snow and rainwater. Clean water home floods are generally safe for you to clean up yourself, but standing clean water can become greywater in as little as 48 hours.

When it comes to flooding emergencies, blackwater floods are the most dangerous and the most destructive. Because of the grossly unsanitary conditions of the water, porous and absorbent items such as carpets, upholstery, and drywall are often unsalvageable. Contact with blackwater via ingestion or skin contact can cause illness in both humans and pets.

While some disasters can’t be predicted, if you live in an area prone to natural disasters, or have had plumbing-related basement floods in the past, there are a few things you can do to protect your home.

  • In areas prone to flood damage, install flood alarms to help with early detection and prevent damage.
  • Inspect pipes, water shutoff valves, appliance connections, and hoses regularly for potential leaks.
  • Monitor any areas that have had water damage in the past.
  • Keep our number if you live in Miami-Dade, as we are your plumbing expert in the area.

Call today to book your appointment: (305) 770-6860