Beyond the swimming pool, drowning hazards come in many forms. One often-overlooked factor is storm drain danger. Today, we’ll explore the purposes of storm drains and ways for people to stay safe around them.

What are Storm Drains?

A common misconception is that storm drains are the same as sewers. This is not exactly true. According to its Wikipedia page, storm drains are designed to receive water from street gutters. This is to help prevent flooding on busy highways and in towns when there is heavy rainfall. The storm drains provide a place for the water to collect, thereby preventing dangerous flooding.

Unfortunately, during particularly heavy rain, storm drains are not always one hundred percent effective. Storm drains sometimes cannot manage the quantity of water. If the drain overflows, it can result in basement and street flooding.

Not a Sewer

Sewers are actually part of a larger system that is designed to handle totally different materials. Conversely, a storm drain will collect rain and melted snow…but it will not filter the water at all. In fact, the water is often quite toxic. This results in a major storm drain danger. You see, excess phosphorus and soil sediments get into the water.

Granted, this doesn’t mean that sewers are safe to wade around in. It merely means that they are different from storm drains. For your health, it’s best to avoid touching or drinking the water in either system.

How Serious is Storm Drain Danger?

Storm drains have multiple openings. Some are grates on residential streets, while others can be large circular openings like the one featured in this article’s header image. Either way, storm drain danger is a real threat.

Far too often, curious kids want to explore these dark mysterious tunnels. In other cases, kids can be dragged in by the current. After all, rapidly moving water can be deceptively deadly. Just like dealing with raging rapids, the apparently shallow water can easily overwhelm and sweep even an adult away.

Just recently, a 17-year-old fell into a storm drain after trying to retrieve a Frisbee. He was sucked into a four-and-a-half-foot open storm sewer pipe and his body was found in a lake the next day.

Flooding and Drowning Dangers

When it comes to storm drain danger, flash flooding is a serious risk. It can happen without warning and easily turn a situation deadly. To help prevent this, everyone should keep a close eye on weather forecasts and be aware of their surroundings.

Beyond surprise flooding, be sure to give any sewers or storm drains a wide berth. They may seem fun to explore but, as we’ve seen, they hide many hazards. Keeping out of harm’s way should be every person’s top priority. Drowning danger can affect anyone, not matter their age. Even adept swimmers can find themselves in harm’s way.


Besides the danger of fighting the current, the water in a storm drain could be freezing cold. This can disorient a person and lead to even more difficulty in the water. To learn more about cold water shock, read our full article.

Above all, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Keep away from storm drain openings and definitely be wary of flash floods. Storm drain danger comes in many forms. Safety first, everyone!