When preparing your business to handle floods, you may have heard of the dangers of black water. But what is it, and why is it called that?
Black water isn’t necessarily black, though it can be dark or cloudy in color. The term refers to water that has been contaminated by a source of sewage, such as toilets or wastewater mains. When floods mix with water from unclean sources, or water damage causes leaks from unclean sources, this can lead to black water. There are a few important things everyone should know about this contaminated fluid.
1. Why It’s Unsafe
Contaminated water is unsafe because it exposes you to the bacteria and other disease agents in fecal matter. Because black water comes from toilets and wastewater lines, it is generally contaminated with high levels of feces and other bodily wastes. Exposure to this can cause severe health problems, especially if the water has been standing long enough to stagnate and breed bacteria. Because of the high risk of water damage, most flood water is considered black.
2. Black vs. Gray
Not all contaminated water is considered black, however. Dirty water from other appliances, such as washing machine water or water mixed with coolant from a refrigerator, is considered gray water. Gray water poses its own risk but is not the same sort of health hazard as its black counterpart.
3. How To Avoid It
When waters start to rise, it’s best to avoid coming into contact with the water if at all possible. Any flood water, whether moving or standing, may have come in contact with a contaminated source. To try to prevent water contamination, however, always check that your structure’s water and sewage lines are appropriately reinforced against water damage. Shut off water to the building if necessary if you are capable and if you know that a flood will soon strike.