You would think that not swimming in floodwaters, containing everything from hidden debris to raw sewage, would be common sense. But we live in a world where people believe taking horse dewormer is a better defense against COVID-19 than the vaccine, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that many saw the flooding from Hurricane Ida as an ideal opportunity to go for a swim, including this Vine Street Expressway diver in Philadelphia.
As many government officials and relief organizations have been trying to make clear since the flooding started, entering the floodwaters, even to try and wade through them, is incredibly dangerous.
In addition to the raw sewage, floodwaters are often contaminated with everything from medical, radiological, and chemical waste to gasoline.
Then there are the strong, hidden currents that can pull you down and away, the hidden debris, which includes things like broken glass and concrete, and sometimes even downed but still live power lines. Not to mention the rats, snakes, and alligators that get caught up in there, too.
Thanks to all the contaminants in the water, contact with it can lead to all sorts of infections, especially if ingested or if it comes into contact with an open wound. Medical Student Jean M. Alejandro put together a Twitter thread outlining some of the diseases, and their outcomes, most likely to be contracted from floodwater, along with a plea that people stay away and avoid the risks.
Fortunately, most people already seem to agree, as the vast majority of Twitter responses to the swimmers are disgusted and horrified.
With some connecting flood-swimmers to those who don’t shower properly, not washing their legs or “waiting for the stink”.
Still, please stay out of the floodwaters. ICUs are already overwhelmed with COVID patients in a lot of areas, so don’t add to the problem.
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*First Published: Sep 3, 2021, 1:05 pm CDT
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org