Use caution swimming after heavy rains, Va. Dept. of Health warns

WASHINGTON — The Virginia Department of Health issued a statement reminding people to be careful both during and after the heavy rains and flooding.

Flooded areas may be deeper, and contain faster moving water, than they originally appear. The department recommends using extreme caution when encountering flooded areas, and to avoid them if possible.

In addition, heavy rains can mix together sewage waste and animal waste when extreme flooding occurs. This unpleasant combination can be very dangerous to any people who come in contact with the contaminated water because it can cause severe illness and infections.

To avoid gastrointestinal illness and infections, the department recommends waiting at least three days after heavy rain to enter the water and to wait for the water to return to normal levels after a flood before entering.

Due to the increased risk of bacteria in floodwater, the department advises swimmers to stay away from natural water if they have diabetes, liver disease, cancer or any other illness that makes them more vulnerable to infections.

The department also recommends that recreational swimmers watch out for debris while swimming, avoid entering the water with any open wounds, avoid swallowing any water and wash themselves off with soap and treated water after getting out of the water.

Information about private wells and septic systems can be found on the department’s website. Contact your local public works department to learn about your local sewer treatment facilities.

More information about how to stay safe while swimming in natural water can be found at the department’s water safety website.

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