As flooding in the Midwest continues to claim lives and cause milions of dollars in damage, officials are issuing warnings to residents. Some dangers are natural, like the flash floods and pools of water that can conduct deadly electricity. Others are man-made, like the scams perpetrated on homeowners trying to rebuild.
Safety officials say most flooding victims have died because they underestimated the danger of high water. Even small amounts of water can be deceptively dangerous, especially for motorists.Maj. Loren Dykeman of the Iowa State Patrol said the greatest danger for drivers was hydroplaning, which in seconds can take a car from the relative safety or the road into a flooded field or river. If people have to drive through water, he said, "they should reduce their spped considerably and be prepared for the vehicle to start to slide."
Though most of the 31 deaths in the current flooding were drownings, four were electrocutions. David E. martin, a spokesman for the Kansas City Power and Light Co., said people often rush to save appliances in flooded basements without thinking of turning off the power. Many mistakenly believe that the can insulate themselves by wearing rubber boots or by not touching metal.
"But the water itself is just like a wire," martin said. "The current usually runs from a frayed wire to the metal drain in the floor. Steping into that water is like touchin a live wire.'
The authorities are also warning flooding victims to beware of people trying to profit from the disater. They warn of contractors who may not perform work to specifications, loan schemes in which applicants pay a large fee up front but never receive any money and others who falsely claim to be collecting money for charity.