Authorities say stay away from flood waters at all costs - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Authorities say stay away from flood waters at all costs

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Drowning isn't the only danger posed by flooding. Drowning isn't the only danger posed by flooding.
MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

With many parts of the Tennessee Valley still under flood warnings and watches, authorities are urging people to avoid rising waters at all costs.

Flooding is the leading cause of death when it comes to weather-related hazards.

Most of those deaths are drownings that happen when people try to drive across flooded roads or walk in flooded areas.

"People think when they are looking at the water, what you see is what you get, but there could be so much going on underneath that water," explained Paige Colburn, who is with the Madison County EMA.

It all comes down to not knowing what's under the water. There could be potholes or dips, or, even worse, the road could be gone.

"It only takes 18 inches of water to float your car, and even if it looks like it's only 6 inches, you can have places where the road has washed away," said Colburn.

Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Half of those deaths happen in cars, and most of the others happen to people walking in flood waters.

"It really only takes 6 inches of flowing water to knock a person down," added Colburn.

Then there are the health risks you can face. Doctors say you should never play in standing or rushing water. You don't know where it's been, but there's a good chance it has made it's way through the sewage system.

"Diseases that could come from that are Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, E.coli, and Hepatitis A," said Dr. Debra Williams with the Madison County Health Department.

While those illnesses typically aren't fatal, they will make you sick for a very long time.

"You are going to get any of those diseases by swallowing the water. If you put your hands in your mouth, then you are going to have access to the infection as well," explained Dr. Williams.

You won't be able to see the bacteria, no matter how clean the water looks.

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