Remembering hurricanes of the past, it is never too soon to begin preparing for this year’s season.
It’s important to keep in mind the health and safety of the people who suffer through these unfortunate events. The potential for disease outbreaks and serious injury loom far after the threat of a major hurricane. As such, people affected by major weather events of catastrophic size must first be prepared to deal with the following conditions so critical to human survival including food, water and shelter.
Infectious diseases and chemical exposure
Diseases such as typhoid and cholera are associated with the consumption of contaminated food and water supplies due to flooding of sewers and sewage systems. Viral and parasitic diseases such as Hepatitis A and Cryptosporidiosis can also become major threats to the public’s health. Contaminated flood waters may also harbor toxic chemicals including pesticides and petroleum by-products.
CO- Carbon Monoxide intoxication
Precautions should be taken to ensure that adequate ventilation exists whenever running any gasoline powered engine such as, large pumps, generators or vehicles. Last year there were deaths associated with carbon monoxide intoxication in Florida.
Safe food and water
Often the most critical two items essential to survival, safe food and water are often in short supply during major catastrophes. Food that has not been properly refrigerated should not be consumed. Whenever possible, drink only boiled or bottled water. If boiling water is not practical, authorities recommend the use of chlorine bleach at a concentration of1/8 teaspoon per gallon of water, but be advised that some pathogenic organisms are resistant to this chemical treatment.
Mosquito transmitted diseases
Diseases such as Encephalitis and West Nile Virus can be of serious concern. Since most hurricanes occur during the summer months, when temperatures can be sweltering, the best line of defense is a mosquito repellent containing DEET or Picariin.