Preventing Illness After A Disaster
In terms of safety, planning before a disaster strikes is important. It is also important to consider what will happen in the aftermath. Some natural disasters will leave the community in a state of disarray, struggling to make sense of what has happened. It is during this time when illness will spread, and other problems may begin to occur. This is especially true if the temperatures are extreme at the time. Don’t assume that just because the damage was minimal, there isn’t a chance of getting sick. This is when it is even more critical to protect yourself against certain illnesses.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that has no color and no odor, making it impossible to detect without the right equipment. A minor natural disaster can disrupt the gas lines in your home, releasing carbon monoxide. When inhaled, this noxious gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning leading to a sudden illness or death if exposed for long enough.
If the normal heating and cooking devices in your home have been disrupted, do not bring generators, grills, or anything that uses propane into your home. Don’t use the furnace during this time, as it could send carbon monoxide into the air as well. Look to family or friends for help instead of risking a major problem. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off during or immediately following the disaster, leave your home at once.
Food and Water
The power may be disrupted during a disaster. In addition to this, water lines may be disrupted while and water sources may be tainted. This can lead to both food and water being unsafe for consumption. Water has the potential of becoming infected with microorganisms, sewage waste and chemicals. Each of these will be hazardous to your health, and could lead to extreme illness or even death.
Listen to public announcements following the disaster telling you when it is safe to use water supplies. Because of this, it is important to have your own supply of water ready just in case. If the power is out for an extended period of time, resist opening the fridge as much as possible. Be sure not to eat any food that has spoiled.
Wash Your Hands
One of the easiest ways for disease and illness to spread in this situation is through contact with harmful agents. Your hands will be in the thick of things. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and disinfected water before dealing with food, after using the restroom, and after you participate in any sort of cleanup. Water can be disinfected by mixing bleach in the water and letting it stand for at least half an hour. If there is no access to water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Illnesses and diseases have the potential to spread after a disease occurs. They thrive in situations like these, so be prepared. Make sure to protect yourself and your family from illness during such a vulnerable time.