The Danger Below the Surface

Work crews and volunteers furiously fill sandbags while watching the river rise faster than they can build.  

Upriver, spring runoff combined with several days of heavy rains, cause the swollen river to overrun its banks. Floodwaters overrun the shores rendering the containment efforts futile. 

Homeowners pack everything they can into cars and trucks and head for higher ground. 

However, there are always people that can’t evacuate in time, requiring assistance from first responders who often must brave the floodwaters to save lives and property. 

The swift-moving water and the floating debris it carries are obvious dangers. But the water also contains hidden dangers that can endanger the lives of responders and victims. 

According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Floodwaters may contain bacteria from human and animal wastes. The most likely symptoms from an infection are stomach-ache, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. While skin contact with flood water does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, emergency response personnel and the public should avoid direct contact with standing water when possible to minimize the chance for infection. Chemical contamination of floodwaters can also occur, and contamination levels may be higher nearer to sources such as industrial locations. 

After being waist deep in floodwater, the last thing most responders want to do is to be hosed down with more water. Up to now, that was the only option for floodwater decon. 

However, there is the Hybrid Decon process that utilizes FiberTect® to remove surface contaminants and then an application of Dahlgren Decon™ solution to chemically destroy and remove the remainder can be a better alternative to soap and water decon lines. 

This process has several advantages during a flood incident and recovery including: 

  • Reduced setup and mixing time. 
  • Dahlgren Decon does not need to be diluted with water. 
  • Dahlgren Decon is non-corrosive. 
  • Does not generate additional contaminated water to be collected and destroyed. 
  • Reduced application and dwell time 

Using Dahlgren Decon to chemically destroy and remove contaminants from PPE that was exposed to floodwaters means that after the process, the PPE can then be cleaned in regular washing machines. 

For more information on the Hybrid Decon process, click here.