Flooding one of Florence's big dangers

September 14, 2018

(HealthDay)—As Florence unleashes her full fury on the Carolinas, residents who stayed put need to know that flooding will be even more dangerous than the high winds of this hurricane.

Making landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., around 7 a.m. Friday, the category 1 hurricane was pounding the historic town of New Bern, which sits just to the north of the city of Wilmington. Already, more than 100 emergency calls for water rescue have been placed, with people trapped in their homes and cars, according to CNN.

Florence's winds have weakened slightly, dropping to between 90 and 100 miles per hour, but weather experts stress that the slow-moving storm will likely dump catastrophic amounts of rain on coastal and inland areas in the coming days.

"Floodwater places virtually all people at risk for drowning, even experienced swimmers," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"Fast-moving water can be lethal, and even shallow-appearing water can be deadly for toddlers and small children," he warned.

"The storm surge is the most dangerous time after the hurricane, especially if you live near the ocean, lakes or streams, since they can rapidly overflow and lead to drowning," Glatter added.

Staying off the roads is critical to avoid being swept away in fast-moving flood waters, as it's possible for your car engine to stall out, he explained.

"Never drive into a standing pool of water on a road after a hurricane, as the water may rise rapidly, and trap you in your vehicle," he added.

Even after the waters recede, they can harbor bacteria and viruses, not to mention dangerous chemicals, Glatter said. Water-borne diseases—including cholera, typhoid fever, hepatitis A and leptospirosis—can spread rapidly in untreated water.

That means you can be infected after washing, drinking or bathing in , or by eating infected food. It's essential to boil all water for bathing, brushing your teeth or drinking after a flood, Glatter said. Bottled water remains the safest water source in this setting.

Cholera is highly contagious and causes severe diarrhea, which can lead to profound dehydration and be deadly if intravenous hydration isn't given quickly, he noted.

"The spread of cholera is one of the most significant dangers following any natural disaster, but especially after flooding from a hurricane," Glatter said. Such outbreaks are typically due to contamination of the water supply.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is spread mainly through contaminated food, though it can be prevented by vaccination, he said.

Keep in mind that once the storm waters have gone, there will likely be no power and few supplies, so stocking up beforehand is essential, Glatter noted.

If you take prescription medications, have an extra week's supply on hand.

Diabetic patients should keep extra insulin on hand, as well as a ready supply of snacks in case their drop too low.

Patients who use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea or COPD may need an alternative power source during the storm, Glatter said. This includes a CPAP battery pack in the event of an electrical outage.

People should have at least one gallon of bottled per day for every person, for up to seven days. And folks should pack enough non-perishable foods for up to a week.

First-aid kits, flashlights and extra batteries are always needed, along with road maps, basic tools, duct tape, cash, sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.

Basically, be prepared to be self-sufficient for one to five days, Glatter stressed, but stay calm.

"Don't panic," he said. "Try to take things one step at a time when you feel overwhelmed. Practice slow abdominal breathing if you feel overwhelmed during the storm. This will help to slow your heart rate and ease anxiety."

Explore further: Flooded Texas faces higher risk of disease, experts warn

More information: Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on hurricane preparedness.

Related Stories

Flooded Texas faces higher risk of disease, experts warn

August 28, 2017
Sewage-laden floodwaters dumped on Texas by Hurricane Harvey bring a higher risk of disease, such as bacterial infections and mosquito-borne illnesses, and the fallout may linger for years, experts warn.

As hurricane florence targets US, experts urge safety

September 11, 2018
(HealthDay)—With Hurricane Florence barreling toward the Carolinas, the National Safety Council offers steps to stay safe.

Recommended for you

Crunched for time? High-intensity exercise = same cell benefits in fewer minutes

September 20, 2018
A few minutes of high-intensity interval or sprinting exercise may be as effective as much longer exercise sessions in spurring beneficial improvements in mitochondrial function, according to new research. The small study ...

China's doctor shortage prompts rush for AI health care

September 20, 2018
Qu Jianguo, 64, had a futuristic medical visit in Shanghai as he put his wrist through an automated pulse-taking machine and received the result within two minutes on a mobile phone—without a doctor present.

Time to ban the sale of energy drinks to children, says senior doctor

September 19, 2018
It's time to bring in laws to ban the sale of caffeinated energy drinks to children and young people in England to tackle the twin epidemics of obesity and mental health problems, argues Professor Russell Viner, President ...

For-profit hospitals correlated with higher readmission rates

September 19, 2018
Patients who receive care in a for-profit hospital are more likely to be readmitted than those who receive care in nonprofit or public hospitals, according to a new study published by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers.

Sugar content of most supermarket yogurts well above recommended threshold

September 18, 2018
A comprehensive survey of ingredients in yogurts highlights high sugar levels in many—particularly organic yogurts and those marketed towards children.

Research confronts 'yucky' attitudes about genetically engineered foods

September 18, 2018
Is a non-browning apple less "natural" than non-fat milk? In one case, people have injected something into apple DNA to prevent it from turning brown after it's cut. In the other, people used technology to remove something ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.