Hurricane Idalia is set to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning, bringing with it “destructive winds” with speeds of up to 110 mph and 3 to 8 inches of rainfall.
As Idalia churned northward of the Gulf of Mexico, it strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane, with experts forecasting that it will intensify to a Category 3 when it reaches land.
Idalia’s path is predicted to push across Florida to Georgia and make its way to South Carolina and then North Carolina by Thursday. More than 20 evacuation orders have already been in place for those living along Florida’s coastline and in low-lying areas. AccuWeather alerted to potential “storm surge flooding” as Idalia moved toward the U.S., while the National Hurricane Center warned of flash and urban flooding across Florida and Southern Georgia.
Below are ways to keep safe around floodwaters after Hurricane Idalia has passed.
Floodwaters can be dangerous for several reasons, regardless of whether the flooding occurs in built-up areas like cities or coastal neighborhoods. Floodwaters can hide an array of harmful elements including human sewage, industrial hazardous waste and physical objects such as downed trees or power lines. It is important to stay away from flooded areas when possible — especially when injured.
According to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention, exposure to contaminated floodwater can cause a wound to become infected, as well as skin rashes and gastrointestinal illness.
“It is important to protect yourself from exposure to floodwater regardless of the source of contamination,” the CDC states on its website. “The best way to protect yourself is to stay out of the water.” If you come into contact with floodwaters, wash yourself as soon as you can with soap and water or with sanitizer.
If you must travel through floodwaters, protect yourself as much as you can. The CDC recommends wearing “rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles.”
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No matter how calm floodwaters look and no matter how good you are at swimming, these waters can always be a drowning risk, especially for children. It is important to follow any flooding warnings that have been issued by local authorities and never cross into flooded roads. The same goes when traveling in a car. The CDC warns that “cars or other vehicles won’t protect you from floodwaters.” Vehicles can be swept away even in slow-moving floodwaters.
The number of mosquitos in an area after it has been flooded increases, as they breed in stagnant water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, anyone who is able to drain rain gutters and empty pools, buckets and containers should do so as immediately as possible. The quicker the elimination of such breeding grounds for mosquitoes, the less chance there is for someone to become infected with a mosquito-borne illness.