5 Things You Need to Know as the Water Rises - Omaha, Nebraska - CHI Health

5 Things You Need to Know as the Water Rises

Article Date: Jun 16, 2011

Dr. Larry BrownThe media is calling it the "50-year flood" and before you dismiss it as sensationalistic rhetoric, there's something you should know – it is! The situation is so dire that even if you live in West Omaha, there are things you need to know.

Check out these tips from Larry Brown, M.D., an internal medicine and pediatric physician with Alegent Health Clinic in Bellevue.
  1. Stay away from flooded areas.
    • Debris in the flood waters can cause injuries ranging from minor cuts and scrapes to broken bones and head wounds.
    • Make sure you have an up-to-date tetanus vaccination, especially if you get exposed to flood water.
    • Remember, when cuts and scrapes are exposed to flood water, they can easily get infected, which can lead to a more serious problem.

  2. Do not drive through streets or highways covered with water. First of all, you don't know what condition the road is in – it could be washed away, which brings us to the second reason – the current of flood water is dangerous and unpredictable. It can sweep a car or truck away in a matter of minutes.

  3. Stay away from, and report, downed power lines and electrical wires. Remember, electrical current can travel through water and not just outside. Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) offers the following advice on its website. It's common sense, but serves as an important reminder.
    • Never enter a flooded basement or other flooded area where water may be in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices.
    • Under no circumstances should you attempt to turn off power at the main electrical panel box if you must stand in water or even on a wet floor to do so.
    • Never operate electrical appliances or devices or touch electrical switches, outlets or cords if you are standing in water, on a wet surface or if you are wet.
    • Keep all electric-powered tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from water and wet surfaces. Do not use electric tools and equipment outdoors if the ground is wet.

  4. The flood danger doesn't end when the water stops rising. We could see standing water for weeks for longer after the water begins to recede. Standing or stagnant waters are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and possible mosquito-transmitted illnesses like West Nile. "If you have to go into flooded areas, safeguard against mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves or using a bug repellent that contains DEET," says Dr. Brown. He recommends that parents read the label for any precautions in the use of a specific insect repellent for children.

  5. If your tap water is contaminated, don't drink it. If the water looks clear, but has an odor to it, be safe and boil it for least two minutes. That will kill any bacteria. Bottled water may not be good for the environment, but it may be the best option for your health during a flood of this magnitude.

If you have medical questions about this or any other ailments, you can join a free web chat with an Alegent Health Clinic physician every Wednesday at noon. Just log on to Alegent.com/webchat.


Reader Comments
Posted: Jun 27 2011 12:51 PM CST by Kit Thompson

The news report sited about contains an error regarding the flood. This is not a 50 year flood - it is a 500 year flood. In other words, the probability of a flood of this magnitude occuring is so rare, that authorities put the likelihood at once in every 500 years, if then. The article simply left out a zero. Makes a big difference!




Posted: Jun 28 2011 8:29 AM CST by Dorothy Shamblen

I appreciate the attention to this event, and it is worth mentioning that it is a 500 year flood not 50. I'm sure it is just a typo. Stay safe.




Posted: Jun 29 2011 1:16 PM CST by Alegent Health

Kit and Dorothy,

Yes, when you look at probabilities, it is a 500-year flood, the second one in 15 years (the first happened in 1993)! Historically, the last time the river crested at the levels we could see yet this summer was back in 1952, 59 years ago. Either way, it’s an incredible and heartbreaking situation that affects all of us. Thank you for the comments.




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