The Atlantic hurricane season impacts the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico between 1 June and 30 November, annually. It brings bouts of heavy rainfall which usually result in the flooding of low-lying areas. But, there are safety measures to mitigate the effects during and after flooding.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instructs that chlorinating or boiling all water for drinking and food preparation is important. “Ensuring uninterrupted provision of safe drinking water is the most important preventive measure to be implemented following flooding, in order to reduce the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases,” it added.
People are advised to be very careful about what they consume. Care should be taken to use only bottled, boiled, or treated water for drinking, cooking or other domestic purposes because it is harmful to drink flood water, or use it to wash dishes, brush teeth, or wash or prepare food. “When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away bottled water that may have come into contact with floodwater”, noted the health agency.
The World Health Organization (WHO) endorses this position, “since floods can potentially increase the transmission of water- and vector-borne diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, malaria, and yellow fever, among others, it is important to know your risk and protect your water sources”. Throwing away any food that has come in contact with floodwater is necessary; if your food has touched any floodwater, it is not safe to eat and increases your risk of water-borne diseases.
The CDC also advises people not to drive in flooded areas as cars or other vehicles can be swept away in floodwaters or may stall in moving water. Additional safety measures cited include avoiding walking through flooded areas and standing in water as electrical lines might have fallen into the water or water might have been contaminated with hazardous chemicals.
The organization also recommends that drywall and insulation contaminated with flood water or sewage be removed and discarded. “Throw out items that cannot be washed and cleaned with a bleach solution: mattresses, pillows, carpeting, carpet padding, and stuffed toys,” the CDC explained.
Protect against mosquitoes, if your home is in an area with stagnant or standing water, use mosquito repellent, following the instructions on the label, and applying it to clothes or skin. Also, wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts, and cover beds with mosquito nets when sleeping.