Children And Flooding Part 3 – Contaminated Water
Flooding presents a very real danger to anybody in its path, but as we have established in our two most recent entries, this is especially true for young children, primarily due to the fact that their systems are still developing and quite small. It simply takes less to have an immediate effect on them.
When it comes to drinking water, we all need a steady supply of it, preferably safe and uncontaminated. Again, children are especially susceptible to contaminated water, along with pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly. In fact, all of these people should drink bottled water, as well as using it for the mixing of baby formula and cooking. Children should be sponge bathed with warm bottled water until such time as it can be ascertained that the tap water is safe.
Children that have swallowed small amounts of contaminated water may or may not display symptoms or become ill, and the symptoms that are displayed may vary based on the nature of the contaminant. If the water is contaminated by disease carrying organisms, then you may see symptoms very similar to stomach flu, including stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The child may also become dehydrated.
Other contaminants, such as gasoline or pesticides, may make themselves evident by making the water smell or taste bad. Others, such as lead and some disease causing organisms, may not be readily detectable. While drinking water that is contaminated by lead or gasoline may not cause immediate and observable harm to your child, it can still have a lingering effect, harming your child’s developing brain or immune system. This is all the more reason to make sure that the drinking water supply servicing your home or business is safe and free from any and all contaminants. Private wells may have to be professionally tested or certified as safe by local officials.
Flooded wells should not have their pumps turned on, and the well should not be flushed with water. Local state health officials should be contacted for proper procedure on managing a flooded well. All water should be assumed to be contaminated until deemed otherwise. Your local water system or state health agency will also advise if you need to boil water prior to using it in the wake of a flood or other natural disaster.
When boiling water, it is advisable to allow it to come to a rolling boil for a period of at least one minute in order to make sure that you have killed off any disease causing organisms. What is less known about boiling is that it does not remove many harmful chemicals, and may actually increase the concentrations of many heavy metals, including lead, which can be very detrimental to your child’s health. Also, treating tap water with chlorine or iodine will kill many of these disease causing organisms, but again, will not remove harmful chemicals or heavy metals.
For best results, use bottled or jug water whenever possible. This way you know you are avoiding the risk of contaminants.