Flood Cleanup - How to Prevent the Health Hazards
When floods occur, they break down the man-made boundaries between humans and the elements. Water purification and sewage systems are often severely damaged in the wake of floods, and chemicals from sludge and toxic wastes end up contaminating the waterways.
Flood cleanup professionals are trained to handle such situations, but affected residents need to take measures to decontaminate their water supply, disinfect their living areas and prevent the health hazards and epidemics that often break out in the aftermath of a flood.
People who come in contact with contaminated food or polluted water can end up with illness and disease caused by pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A virus and Shigella. Clostridium tetani, which causes tetanus, can enter the body through cuts and injuries.
Chemical contamination from toxic waste dumps or agricultural waste can cause rashes and other symptoms of chemical poisoning. In the aftermath of floods, stagnant water can become a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, resulting in an epidemic of West Nile Virus or encephalitis. Wild animals can spread rabies and diseases spread by fleas and ticks can also break out at such times.
Simple Steps to Prevent Disease
Simple precautions to ensure hygiene, such as washing hands with soap, using clean water for drinking and avoiding contaminated produce, can help prevent disease to a great extent. It’s best to assume that the water supply is contaminated until such time that the authorities declare it to be safe.
Use bottled water that has not been exposed to contaminants for drinking. You can also filter and boil water and disinfect it with chlorine bleach, if bottled water is not available. Avoid wading through pools of flood waters as toxic chemicals and pathogens like tetanus bacteria can enter through the skin. As a preventative measure, you and your family should get a tetanus vaccination.
Keep plastic gloves, rubber boots and other protective clothing handy in case you have to enter a contaminated area for any reason. Use mosquito repellents and wear full-sleeved shirts, long pants to avoid getting bitten. Don’t allow children to swim or play in flood waters, or use toys that were in contact with such waters, without disinfecting them.