Myths and Facts about Floods

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Flood disasters – threats and myths

The folly of rewarding A and expecting B
The folly of rewarding A and expecting B

Water, water everywhere, and all the boards did shrink; Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink. -Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge-

FACT: Floods are the 2nd highest killer among all disasters worldwide


  • Drowning
  • Injuries, mostly during cleanup
  • Loss of safe water and adequate sanitation
  •  Loss of food and shelter
  • Toxic exposures (e.g. chemicals, mold)


  • Epidemics will occur. Although often reported in poor nations, epidemics are very rare in the developed world.
  • Mass vaccination is necessary. (don’t risk complications from a “flood shot” given outside of routine recommendations)
  • Mosquito control is necessary. (don’t waste money spraying in absence of identified disease in the vector)
  • It’s all over in a few months. (It takes years, sometimes decades to recover from a flood
  • It’s safe after waters are gone. Many flood-related deaths occur during recovery as a result of burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, falls and electrocutions

Read the entire book chapter : Keim M. Flood Disasters. In Eds., Koenig K, Schultz C. Disaster Medicine. Cambridge University Press. New York, NY. 2010 p 529-54

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