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By Dr. Colin Alert
Floods are essentially the most common natural disaster occurring locally, regionally and internationally, and their impact is anticipated to grow in the long run on account of the results of climate change. Flooding poses immediate concerns and lots of dangers to human health, but additionally long-term effects resulting from displacement of families and worsened living conditions. Within the Caribbean, floods may follow periods or episodes of heavy rainfall, and even hurricanes, and will cause a variety of problems from traffic disruptions, destruction of properties and crops, to deaths. Faulty constructed and/or blocked drainage definitely aggravate the problems of flooding. Actually, during heavy rainfall here lately there have been quite a few videos highlighting areas seriously impacted by floods.
The immediate health impacts of floods may include drowning and injuries. Health risks are also related to the evacuation of individuals, and lack of health infrastructure including essential drugs and supplies, and access to health care facilities. Within the long-term, chronic disease, disability, poor mental health, and poverty-related diseases including malnutrition are sometimes seen following severe flooding.
The chance of water supplies becoming contaminated after a flood could be very high, and contaminated water can pose a threat for months. Flood waters may contain chemicals, debris, sewage, and lots of germs, including parasites, bacteria and viruses. Diseases like dengue fever and even malaria, that are spread by mosquitoes, often increase after floods. Along with the health risks related to power outages and interrupted water distribution, floodwater itself can harbor bacteria and disease-carrying organisms that pose a risk to evacuees, rescue staff, and anyone returning to their homes. Residents should wear gloves and proper protective clothing while doing storm clean-up work and wash any cuts or scrapes thoroughly to stop infection. Up-to-date tetanus protection is essential.
Vulnerable population groups include children; pregnant women; individuals with chronic illnesses; elderly people, particularly those with physical or mental impairments; and homeless individuals. Being neighbor suggest that adults should consider offering assistance to all vulnerable individuals, especially during an emergency. Should you still imagine in being your neighbours’ keeper, then every time possible adults/families/ communities/church groups should discover vulnerable individuals and offer them help/shelter/evacuation to cope with any (and each) impending natural diseater.
Preparing for floods.
1. Family emergency plans have been shown to be useful in planning for emergencies; these should include information on details resembling how and when to show off the gas, electricity and water; and the way and when to call the emergency services. Evacuation plans must also be considered. Families should plan evacuation route(s) and assembly points, and discover areas vulnerable to flooding.
2. Ensuring uninterrupted provision of secure drinking water is an important safety measure to be implemented following flooding, as a way to reduce the danger of outbreaks of water-borne diseases, and dehydration.
3. Promote good hygienic practices and secure food preparation techniques.
Don’t use flood water to scrub dishes, brush teeth or wash and prepare food. At all times wash your hands with soap and water if you have got been in touch with floodwater.
4. Avoid walking or driving through flooded areas and standing water.
You have no idea if electrical lines have fallen within the water or if hazardous chemicals exist. Cars and folks can easily be swept away during a flood.
5. Throw away any food that has are available contact with floodwater.
In case your food has touched any floodwater, it shouldn’t be suitable for eating and increases your risk of water-borne diseases.
6. Safely clean your private home if it has are available contact with floodwater.
Throw out any items that can’t be washed and cleaned with bleach, resembling pillows and mattresses. Clean all partitions, floors and other surfaces with soap and water, in addition to bleach.
7. Beware mosquitoes. If your private home is in an area with stagnant or standing water, use mosquito repellent, following the instructions on the label, and apply it to clothes or skin. Also wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts, and canopy beds with mosquito nets when sleeping.
Our current climate trajectory suggests that we will probably be subject to more frequent and more severe weather-related events, like hurricanes and floods. Big up Noah, who in biblical times established the unique blueprint for coping with floods, and at the identical time took care of lots of those around him. Noah had the time and resources to construct and stockpile the Ark and to place into practice “love thy neighbor as thyself”. If we hope to survive significant flooding, we must develop a plan to maintain ourselves, friends, family and neighbors, ‘clean and dry’ from flooding.
Dr. Colin V. Alert, MB BS, DM. is a family physician and associate UWI family medicine lecturer.