Dirty Water: Health Risks of the Westwood Flooding

As the water cleanup begins, residents and students should take precautions to stay healthy

Although the water is no longer gushing in Westwood, there are new potential health dangers because of the flooding and standing water. Even when the water is turned off, people need to be cautious when walking through the flooded areas.

The first concern is hidden debris under the water and around the area. It’s easy to cut or injure yourself because you can’t see what is under the surface. Dirty debris also increases your chance of infection. If you do cut yourself, you may need a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

The risk of electrocution is also increased when there is a lot of standing water in an area. If an electrical wire drops into one of these flooded areas, it could cause and potentially life-threatening electrical shock. Pay attention to your surroundings and look for downed power lines or electrical wires. If possible, avoid the area altogether.

Summer heat and humidity combined with pools of standing water are perfect breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitos. These insects reproduce quickly and can spread diseases such as West Nile and Chikungunya through their bite. We can expect to see an increase of mosquitos in the area in the coming days and weeks.

The best ways to avoid being bitten is to always wear insect repellent when outdoors and avoid walking in the flooded areas during dawn and dusk when the mosquitos are most active.

Finally, you may want to drink bottle water for a few days or until the water lines are repaired. Although the Los Angeles DWP says the tap water is safe to drink, backwash into the pipes can result in bacteria, debris and minerals entering the water system. Although this risk is minimal, it may be better to be safe than sorry.

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