The Palm Beach County Health Department is issuing a warning ahead of Hurricane Irma: stay out of flood water.
Officials say, while it may look like fun to surf flooded streets, flood water is usually filled with raw sewage, and contains a number of different fecal bacteria, including E. coli.
According to spokesperson Tim O’Connor, when the sewer systems and storm drains become flooded that combination creates unsanitary flood water.
“We really, really want to caution people, it is not a good idea to play in it,” O’Connor said. “You will always see younger people with their surf boards, being towed behind cars, but it is really, really not a good idea.”
This bacteria causes things like uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea – the last thing you could want when you are out of power and trying to survive.
Parents, if your kids want to play in flood waters, remind them of this message: “You wouldn’t swim in it before, you should not go in it after,” said O’Connor. “We never encourage swimming in any of the canal waters around here.”
If you have to wade through flood water to evacuate or seek help, the health department recommends covering up open wounds or cuts and investing in some waterproof clothing and boots. Also, after dirty water exposure, rinse off with clean water as quickly as possible with clean water and soap.